Heads up for folks catching a train, plane, or bus in the New York or New Jersey area: Starting today, the Port Authority is implementing a $50 penalty for travelers caught without a face covering within their facilities.
While it still wants to put the “primary emphasis” on keeping mask-wearing voluntary for all riders, the agency noted in a memo put out last week that anyone caught failing to wear a mask or face covering “appropriately” could now be liable for a “recommended” $50 fine. The new mandate applies to all facilities under the Port Authority’s purview—that includes the LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark airports, PATH stations, and the agency’s namesake bus terminal in Midtown Manhattan, among others.
What’s a bit unclear is who, exactly, will enforce these fines. As Gothamist noted, the announcement from the Port Authority somewhat echos the MTA’s announcement back in September that it would issue its own $50 fines for those caught running maskless on the city’s subway systems. At the time, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo enlisted the help of NYPD officers to wrangle these riders, despite the fact that these same officers had been historically mask-averse. MTA Chairman Pat Foye later responded to these critiques by saying that cops, too, could be subject to these same fines.
While we don’t know how many fines have been issued under the MTA or the Port Authority’s mandates (yet), hopefully, this will be enough to encourage the currently unmasked masses in some of New York’s boroughs to reconsider covering up their face before they leave the house.