Coronavirus News: SEPTA changes mask policy after videos surface on social media

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Saturday, April 11, 2020
SEPTA changes mask policy after videos surface on social media
SEPTA made a change to their mask policy after videos surfaced on social media.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- On Thursday, SEPTA enacted a policy stating passengers must only ride for essential services and jobs, and they must cover their face with masks or cloths.

But a day later, the latter portion of that policy was revoked after two videos from separate incidents surfaced on social media.

One video from Friday morning in Center City showed a man pulled out off a bus by several Philadelphia police officers after the bus driver called 911.

A police report stated the rider caused a disturbance on the bus stemming from a disagreement over wearing a face mask.

SEPTA issued a statement in part saying, "An incident today posted on social media regarding a passenger being removed from a bus is still under investigation."

Philadelphia's Managing Director Brian Abernathy said during the daily city briefing that he had seen the video.

"I want to be very clear, the police were not responding to the social distancing complaint. The police were responding to the fact the person was asked to leave the bus and refused, so failing to follow the bus driver's direction," Abernathy said.

"Let's remember our SEPTA bus drivers are frontline, boots on the ground heroes who go to work every day and feel the need for protection," said Mayor Jim Kenney, who said he did not see the video of the bus incident.

A second video circulated on Friday of a SEPTA worker telling people on a bus to get off if they didn't have masks. The worker then directed one man, who was wearing a bandanna over his mouth, to get off the bus.

SEPTA is not actually able to enforce the mask/cloth cover policy, and after seeing both videos, changed the policy on Friday.

SEPTA drivers are using vehicles with partitions to keep a distance between passengers, but were also given masks.