Coronavirus Update NYC: MTA stepping up face mask enforcement as compliance dips

Coronavirus update for NYC
NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The MTA announced that it will step up enforcement of its face mask wearing policy as new data shows fewer subway, bus, and commuter train riders have been wearing face coverings recently.

Compliance was near-universal earlier in the coronavirus pandemic when ridership was way down.

Now, compliance on the subways is about 87%, according to the MTA Chief Safety Officer Pat Warren.

"It's good but it's not great and we want to move up to 100%," Warren said.

Riders will get one warning from MTA Police to wear a mask, and if they don't, they will get a summons.

"We just want you to wear a mask," MTA Police Chief Joe McGrann said.

In recent months the MTA has issued a mere 41 summonses for noncompliance with mask requirements. Warren put recalcitrant passengers on notice that that is about to change.

"We're going to start handing out summonses more frequently," Warren said.

The MTA is also happy to hand out a mask, more than 25,000 were given to riders without one in the two weeks since September 7.

Mask-wearing is a federal requirement on trains, buses and paratransit vehicles.

Those who do not comply face a $50 fine.

But the announcement from the MTA may be more of a threat than a promise.

MTA police officers ordinarily patrol the rail terminals and the commuter trains, while transit enforcement is largely up to the NYPD.

Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters Tuesday that the department will not be enforcing mask mandates.

"We are not obviously trying to get the NYPD into any kind of detailed mask enforcement. That's not something we focus on. But educating people, reminding people, giving them a mask, those are the right things to do," de Blasio said.

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