Mask rules at airports and on public transit vary across the New York area

Call it “mask confusion” on public transportation, because a dizzying set of updates to rules on mask mandates in the New York area leaves travelers unclear where and when they should mask up.

A federal judge in Florida struck down the CDC’s national travel mask warrant, calling it an override. President Joe Biden has said he will only appeal the decision if the CDC deems a mask mandate is still necessary. When Biden was asked if people should continue to wear masks on planes, he replied, “It’s up to them.”

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said mask mandates are still in effect at Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, but have been dropped at Newark Liberty International Airport because the New Jersey eliminated the mask mandate.

The policy clarification came after a confusing morning in airport terminals where travelers were sometimes told masks were required and at other times were allowed to walk around buildings without masks.

“The Port Authority will continue to follow guidance from public health authorities in New York and New Jersey regarding mask mandates at its public transportation facilities,” the agency said in a statement.

New Jersey Transit dropped mask requirements on Tuesday morning. This means passengers on NJ Transit trains, buses, and streetcars no longer need to mask up.

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Due to New York public health guidelines, the mask mandate remains in effect for the following New York facilities:

  • Port Authority Midtown Bus Station
  • George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal
  • World Trade Center Oculus Transportation Center
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  • New York Stewart International Airport (SWF)

The mask mandate has been lifted for the following New Jersey facilities, but masks are now optional and welcome for anyone who chooses to wear them:

  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  • Teterboro Airport (TEB)

The mask mandate remains in effect for the PATH system (including stations and platforms except open platforms).

The MTA announced on Monday that the mask rules would remain in effect. This means that people using New York’s subways and buses, the Staten Island Railway, the Long Island Rail Road and the Metro-North Railroad will have to continue to wear masks.

Due to varying rules, commuters could put on and take off masks on various modes of transportation to and from work.

Melvin Z. Madore