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MTA Mask Force
Photograph: Courtesy Marc A. Hermann/MTA

Meet the Mask Force, the MTA’s way to get you to wear your damn mask

The yellow-T-shirt-wearing group is handing out free masks on the subway.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

There's a new crew in town and they're coming for the unmasked.

On Monday, the MTA launched the cheekily-named "Mask Force," a team of 300 employees and volunteers (top MTA officials, elected officials and their staffs, advocates, and community board members) in yellow T-shirts, who will be distributing masks directly to customers for the foreseeable future.

The new team will be traveling throughout the subway, bus and commuter rail system offering free disposable surgical-style masks, provided by the State of New York, to riders who need them.

By now, you've surely seen Metro-Man—he's been handing out masks at Metro-North hubs this month.

MTA Mask Force
Photograph: Courtesy Marc A. Hermann/MTA

It's all part of the MTA's latest initiative to get straphangers to wear masks, called "Operation Respect." In case you missed it, everyone is required to wear a mask while on public transportation.

"Wearing a mask is the single most important thing all our customers and employees can do to combat the spread of COVID-19 and continue flattening the curve here in New York—and it’s the law," said MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye. "Every MTA customer can be a part of Operation Respect, sending a clear message that their health and safety and that of everyone around them is important."

To help keep people "respectful," the state has donated 1 million masks for distribution for a total of 3 million being handed out to New Yorkers in addition to free masks riders can get from station booths.

There are also amusing and eye-catching signs across the city to show how to properly use masks and social distance.

MTA mask signs
Photograph: Courtesy MTA

Given all of this, there's really no excuse not to wear a mask on the bus or subway.

So mask up, or the Mask Force will find you!

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