Beginning on Thursday, bus riders in Philadelphia are required to wear masks in an effort to slow the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus. The city's transit authority, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), is enforcing the new requirement by physically removing passengers if necessary, as they did with one resistant passenger the first day the rule went into effect.
throwing off riders for not having masks. Are masks a requirement for riders? this dude's not wearing one pic.twitter.com/2IXtnI5dkO— Philly Transit Riders Union (@phillyTRU) April 10, 2020
do riders know that they might be pulled off a SEPTA bus by 10 cops for not having a mask? pic.twitter.com/NnHXJC02E8— Philly Transit Riders Union (@phillyTRU) April 10, 2020
SEPTA website says nothing about masks, twitter feed says they are required, operators are told they're not: pic.twitter.com/Ffp5S8kz0L— Philly Transit Riders Union (@phillyTRU) April 10, 2020
As the government takes unprecedented steps to slow the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, the balance between mitigation efforts and civil liberties will be debated in the months and years to come.
Three SEPTA employees have died from COVID-19, and at least 81 have tested positive for the virus. Last week, SEPTA suspended on-board fair payments to promote social distancing between operators and passengers. SEPTA also implemented rear-door entry for passengers and limited the number of riders per bus and trolley.
Public health officials feared Philadelphia, the nation's sixth-largest city, would become the outbreak's next hot spot. But as of Friday, the city had a total of 5,793 reported cases of the coronavirus and 137 deaths. Philadelphia is expected to reach its peak in the upcoming week.