Effective Monday, February 1 at 11:59 pm EST (0459 GMT Tuesday) travelers to the United States and within the country are required to wear a mask on all public transportation.
The order by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mandates that passengers must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth while boarding, riding and disembarking from airplanes, trains, buses, subways, ships, ferries, taxis and rideshares.
In addition, travelers must wear a mask while waiting for transportation and on the premises of transportation hubs such as airports, train, bus and ferry terminals, subway stations, seaports and ports of entry.
“People may not be able to distance themselves by the recommended at least 6 feet from other people seated nearby or from those standing in or passing through the aisles on airplanes, trains, or buses,” the CDC points out in the statement on its website.
“Travel has led—and continues to lead to—interstate and international spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Wearing masks that completely cover the mouth and nose reduce the spread of COVID-19. People who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic) or are not yet showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic) might not know that they are infected but can still spread COVID-19 to others. Masks also offer protection to the wearer.”
Cab drivers, train conductors, airline crew members and other transportation staff are also ordered by the CDC to allow travelers to board transportation only if they are wearing masks.
The order will be enforced by the Transportation Security Administration and federal, state and local agencies. The only exceptions are for travelers younger than two and those with certain medical conditions. People in private cars and solo commercial truck drivers do not have to wear masks, Reuters reported.
The order, issued Friday, echoes an executive order issued by President Joe Biden issued January 21 that “immediately” required that masks be worn while on federal property and while on commercial aircraft, trains and public maritime vessels, including ferries, intercity bus services and all public transportation.
The CDC also mandated current negative COVID-19 tests for international travelers effective January 26.
Although the agency intended to do the same with domestic air travel, there was strong opposition from airlines and other groups when the agency said last Friday that it was “actively looking” at issuing a similar requirement for travel within the US.