The Centersfor Disease Control (CDC) late Friday night announced a mask mandate on all public transportation in the United States. The order goes into effect Monday night.
"Wearing a mask especially helps protest those at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and workers who frequently come into close contact with other people (e.g., at transportation hubs). Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings," the order signed by Dr. Martin Cetron, the CDC's Director of Division of Global Mitigation and Quarantine, stated. "Using masks along with other preventative measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, is one of the most effective strategies available for reducing COVID-19 transmission."
Below is what the CDC says fulfills the mandate's requirements:
The following are attributes of masks needed to fulfill the requirements of the Order. CDC will update this guidance as needed.
- A properly worn mask completely covers the nose and mouth.
- Cloth masks should be made with two or more layers of a breathable fabric that is tightly woven (i.e., fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source).
- Mask should be secured to the head with ties, ear loops, or elastic bands that go behind the head. If gaiters are worn, they should have two layers of fabric or be folded to make two layers.
- Mask should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
- Mask should be a solid piece of material without slits, exhalation valves, or punctures.
The following attributes are additionally acceptable as long as masks meet the requirements above.
- Masks can be either manufactured or homemade.
- Masks can be reusable or disposable.
- Masks can have inner filter pockets.
- Clear masks or cloth masks with a clear plastic panel may be used to facilitate communication with people who are hearing impaired or others who need to see a speaker’s mouth to understand speech.
- Medical masks and N-95 respirators fulfill the requirements of the Order.
The following do not fulfill the requirements of the Order.
- Masks worn in a way that does not cover both the mouth and nose
- Face shields or goggles (face shields or goggles may be worn to supplement a mask that meets above required attributes)
- Scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, or bandannas
- Shirt or sweater collars (e.g., turtleneck collars) pulled up over the mouth and nose.
- Masks made from loosely woven fabric or that are knitted, i.e., fabrics that let light pass through
- Masks made from materials that are hard to breathe through (such as vinyl, plastic or leather)
- Masks containing slits, exhalation valves, or punctures
- Masks that do not fit properly (large gaps, too loose or too tight)
The only time people are not required to wear a mask is:
- while eating, drinking, or taking medication for brief periods of time;
- while communicating, for brief periods of time, with a person who is hearing impaired when the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication;
- if, on an aircraft, wearing of oxygen masks is needed because of loss of cabin pressure or other event affecting aircraft ventilation;
- if unconscious (for reasons other than sleeping), incapacitated, unable to be awakened, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance; or
- when necessary to temporarily remove the mask to verify one’s identity such as during Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening or when asked to do so by the ticket or gate agent or any law enforcement official.
The mask mandate applies to all people over the age of two but is exempt for those with medical disabilities or those workers who cannot safely carry out their jobs while wearing a mask.
The mandate covers all public transportation, including airplanes, trains, boats, subways, buses, ferries, taxis and ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft. It also covers transportation hubs, including airport terminals, train stations, subway stations and bus depots.
The CDC is relying on public transportation officials to enforce the mandate.