The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a sweeping order late Friday requiring the use of face masks on nearly all forms of public transportation.
The order, effective at 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday February 1, requires face masks to be worn by all travelers on airplanes, ships, trains, subways, buses, taxis, ride-shares and at transportation hubs like airports, bus or ferry terminals, train stations, and seaports. President Joe Biden on January 21 ordered government agencies to “immediately take action” to require masks in airports and on commercial aircraft, trains and public maritime vessels, including ferries, intercity bus services and all public transportation.
While airlines and most transit modes already require masks, the CDC order will make not wearing a mask a violation of federal law that could make it easier for flight attendants and others to enforce.
The CDC said people violating the order could potentially face criminal penalties but suggested civil penalties would be more likely if needed. The order will be enforced by the Transportation Security Administration and federal, state and local agencies. The order says passengers must wear a mask in transit except for brief periods, such as to eat, drink or take medication. Masks may be either manufactured or homemade.
The only exceptions are for travelers younger than two and for those with certain medical conditions. People in private cars and solo commercial truck drivers do not have to wear masks. The CDC order says airlines and other operators must “at the earliest safe opportunity, disembark any person who refuses to comply.”
Copyright 2021 Thomson/Reuters