Coronavirus: Passengers ordered off and dragged from bus in Philadelphia for not wearing a face masks

Incident led to transit authorities stepping back from enforcing face mask rule, but nevertheless still urging passengers to cover up

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Sunday 12 April 2020 17:37 BST
Police drag Philadelphia passenger dragged from bus for not wearing mask

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Louise Thomas

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Police forcibly removed a passenger from a bus in Philadelphia on Friday for not wearing a face mask.

A transit official ordered other passengers off the vehicle for the same reason, as a new rules implemented to protect transportation workers and passengers were enforced.

Transit operators have the right to refuse to let passengers travel that are not wearing face masks, but after the incident that rule has now been revoked.

The bus driver called the police after a passenger refused to leave the bus. Officers found the man still refusing to exit the vehicle and he began to resist further and hold on tight.

The video shows several officers in face masks pulling the man from the bus by his arms and one leg. The man was not arrested or issued with a citation.

Another video, posted on Twitter by the Philly Transit Riders Union, shows what took place immediately before, when an unidentified official on the bus began telling everyone without a mask to get off the bus.

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) introduced a “lifeline service plan” earlier in the week to keep the transit system moving while protecting the health and safety of its employees. Part of that plan involved requiring transit passengers to use face masks.

Dozens of SEPTA employees have been infected with the virus and tragically at least three have died.

Unions pushed for SEPTA to implement the plan after complaining that too many people were making non-essential trips and putting drivers and other passengers at risk.

3 CBS Philly reports that when asked about the mask policy on Tuesday, SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards said: “We’re going to enforce. Not only can an operator of a vehicle refuse a rider that does not have a mask on, we will also have members of our transit police making sure.”

After Friday’s incident, the transit authority released a statement saying that the policy would no longer be enforced, and that while riders are urged to cover their faces, those who refuse will not be barred entry to the system.

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