Just before midnight on Feb. 2, new rules kicked in requiring millions of passengers in the U.S. traveling on airplanes, trains, buses, ferries, taxis, and ride-share vehicles and in airports, stations, ports, and other transit hubs to wear masks.

The new rules were ordered on Jan. 29 by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The CDC was blocked from imposing this mandate by President Trump in August but was able to enforce new rules under the Biden administration. 

The new mandate states, “CDC has issued an order that requires face masks to be worn by all travelers while on public transportation (which includes all passengers and all personnel operating conveyances).”

On Jan. 21, President Joe Biden signed an executive order telling government agencies to “immediately take action,” by mandating masks on public transit systems. 

Biden asked federal agencies to enforce new rules that would ultimately “save lives and allow all Americans, including the millions of people employed in the transportation industry, to travel and work safely.”

Advocacy group, FlyersRights.org, urged stricter mandates, including the use of N95, KN95, or surgical masks on airplanes as well, as the CDC rules allow homemade masks. The group also urged the Biden administration to call for stricter social distancing guidelines, rapid testing, and temperature checks.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued a new rule on Jan. 31 allowing them to issue civil penalties and deny access to flights to travelers not wearing masks. This security measure will be in place until May 11.

Certain people are exempt from the new rule, including children under the age of two, people with a disability, and “a person for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty.”

In compliance with the new rules, American Airlines says people with a disability who will not wear a mask on their flight must notify them at least 72 hours prior to departure. These passengers must also show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery at least three days before their flight.

Individuals traveling by private transportation are also exempt from the rule, including solo truck drivers, and “private conveyances operated only for personal, non-commercial use.”

For more on the new transit mask mandate, click here.

Written ByHaley Weger

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