On October 28, the COAST Board of Directors passed a policy relative to required face coverings onboard all COAST vehicles. The policy follows the CDC’s latest interim guidance for “wearing of face masks while on public conveyances and at stations, ports, and similar transportation hubs”.
Effective Monday, November 9, face coverings will be required of all passengers while boarding and traveling on any COAST bus, minibus, or minivan. The face covering must be worn over both the nose and mouth. The CDC interim guidance also identifies several exemptions under which categories of people may not be required to wear a mask. These include:
• a child under the age of 2 (masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2);
• a person with written instructions from a licensed medical provider to not wear a mask;
• a person with a disability, mental health condition, or sensory sensitivity that prevents that person from wearing a mask;
• a person who is hearing impaired, or communicating with someone who is hearing impaired,
when the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication;
• a person for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by the relevant workplace safety guidelines or federal regulations; or
• a person operating or essential to operating a conveyance for whom wearing a mask would interfere with that person’s ability to safely operate the conveyance.
For the first couple of weeks of this new policy, individually wrapped disposable face masks will be available for passengers who may need one.
“COAST is taking this step now as required use of face coverings while in public have become much more commonplace and accepted across our region, particularly as we are entering a third wave of the pandemic in our state,” remarked Rad Nichols, COAST Executive Director. “We are taking this step as an organization to continue to promote safer travel aboard our public transit system.”
“We understand that requiring face coverings can be a touchy subject for some,” stated Dave Sandmann, COAST Chairman of the Board. “We request that passengers refrain from approaching or attempting to address other passengers who may not be wearing a face covering, as there may be any number of very valid and unapparent reasons for their not doing so.”
In compliance with the Governor’s updated Universal Guidelines under the Stay at Home Order, all COAST staff are required to wear a face covering/mask that covers the mouth and nose when providing assistance to customers inside or outside of the bus, except when operating the vehicle (driving). Masks are also not required to be worn when the vehicle is empty, or when in a COAST vehicle not in service for the purpose of transporting passengers. Policies for mask-wearing by our employees have evolved over time, and the latest will be effective as of November 9. Job accommodations can be considered for employees who may have a medical condition or disability that would make it unsafe for them to wear a face covering/mask.
COAST has committed to providing a safe experience while riding the public transit system and has operated throughout the pandemic with the goal of reducing risks, and consequently exposure to, the COVID-19 virus. The new policy requiring face coverings is the next step in ensuring the riding public, and COAST staff’s, safety given the current status of the pandemic.
The Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation (COAST) has provided public transit service to the Seacoast New Hampshire region since 1982. COAST is a non-profit agency, operating a regional public transit system that relies primarily on federal and local government support to operate. COAST is governed by a board of directors representing the communities served, two regional planning commissions, and many local and state agencies. COAST’s vision is to be an innovative leader in providing a broad range of public transportation services, connecting, and coordinating a robust network of transportation options for everyone.