A mandate will remain in effect for the time being requiring all riders to weak masks on vehicles run by the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, officials announced March 3.

The rule also applies to anyone visiting METRO properties, including stations, transit centers and bus stops.

The announcement comes one day after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott rescinded his mask order for the state. People are still allowed to require masks in private businesses if they choose, and several Houston-area school districts have announced they will continue to require masks on their properties.

METRO first began encouraging mask use on public transit in April before adopting a mask mandate last June. In a March 3 press statement, officials said they remain obligated to keep their mask mandate under a new federal law, which was put into effect in February by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That law requires masks to be worn on all public transportation across the U.S.

Exceptions are made for children under age 2 and people who cannot safely wear a mask because of a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to METRO.

Abbott's move to rescind the mask mandate sparked backlash from local leaders in the Houston area, including Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. Local health care officials are also strongly encouraging people to continue wearing masks until more of the community is vaccinated.