The City of High Point announced this week that all passengers using High Point Transit will continue to be required to wear a mask.

And, while that’s been the rule for a while, transit officials stressed this week that those who fail to do so are now in violation of federal law.

 On Monday, Feb. 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order that requires all travelers on public transportation systems in the US to wear a mask to mitigate the risk of COVID-19.

“Because of this, refusing to wear a mask is now a violation of federal law,” states a press release/public warning issued by the City of High Point. “Passengers must wear masks covering both the mouth and nose when awaiting, boarding, traveling on or disembarking public transit vehicles.  People must also wear masks when entering or on the premises of a transportation hub in the United States.”

Last year, when the coronavirus restrictions dramatically affected life in the US, there were strikingly different approaches taken by communities as to how to address the threat of the virus.  When President Joe Biden entered office last month, one of his stated goals was for there to be more ubiquity nationally in the response, and this federal law requiring masks on public transportation is one instance of that.

According to High Point Transit system staff, they will deny boarding to passengers who aren’t wearing a mask.  Also, passengers who don’t wear a mask correctly while onboard will be asked to get off at the next stop.  In addition, transit staff will ask passengers who aren’t wearing masks to leave the terminal. 

Failure to comply with the mask requirement can result in civil penalties ranging from $250 for the first offense – up to $1,500 for repeat offenders.

Exceptions will be made for small children 2 years old or younger, as well as for those with a disability who can’t safely wear a mask because of the disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

High Point’s press release offered quite a few specifics regarding compliance under the new law: “According to the CDC Order, face masks should cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides without gaps. Masks can be either manufactured or homemade and should be a solid piece of material without slits, exhalation valves, or punctures. While medical masks and N-95 respirators fulfill CDC and TSA’s requirements, face shields and/or goggles are not an acceptable substitute for the use of a mask; however, they may be used in addition to an acceptable mask.”