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Philadelphia transit authorities have changed their policy regarding face masks on public transportation after an incident of a man being dragged off a bus for not covering his face went viral amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Southeastern Philadelphia Transportation Authority (SEPTA) began requiring passengers to wear facial coverings to stop the spread of coronavirus but the mandate was short-lived.
"That policy will no longer be enforced," SEPTA said in a statement to Fox News.
The agency says it will now "URGE all customers to wear a mask or other facial covering when traveling on SEPTA to protect customers and Operators."
"While SEPTA urges riders to cover their faces, those who refuse will not be barred entry to the system," the statement added.
SEPTA said the guidelines are in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which encourages people to wear a face covering when in public to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
"Please comply with this request for your protection and the protection of others," the SEPTA policy says.
The policy change comes after bus riders caught on camera video footage of a passenger fighting with police as they lift him up and drag him off the bus as he shouts at them and refuses to get off by himself.
The man was not arrested or issued a citation, but police said they were responding to “calls of a disturbance" after the passenger was repeatedly asked to leave the bus but refused. The man was not wearing a mask, SEPTA's mandate at the time -- which has since been relaxed.
Video taken aboard the bus shows a worker asking people to get off for not wearing masks. The worker says, “If you do not have a mask, you cannot ride public transportation.”
"An incident [last Friday] posted on social media regarding a passenger being removed from a bus is still under investigation," SEPTA told Fox News.