BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is asking passengers to board all buses and trolleys from their rear doors to help keep distance between drivers and passengers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The change takes effect Saturday on all MBTA buses and on street-level trolleys on the Green Line and Mattapan Line. Officials say seniors and people with disabilities can continue using the front door.

“The MBTA is undertaking these measures to protect our frontline employees while maintaining regional mobility for essential trips by healthcare workers and emergency responders,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said in a statement.

The transit authority has discouraged all travel that isn’t considered essential amid the pandemic. It previously scaled back commuter rail service and canceled ferries, while adding more buses along some busy routes to avoid crowding.

MBTA officials says the changes are meant to follow social distancing guidelines, along with requirements under Gov. Charlie Baker’s state of emergency declaration.

Other cities including Seattle and New York have also asked passengers to board buses from back doors to protect drivers.

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ABOUT THE VIRUS

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.

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