CDC mask order for travelers goes in effect

Coronavirus

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — A year after the coronavirus was first detected in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is setting a sweeping face mask mandate.

Starting Monday night, U.S. residents using public transit will be required by federal law to wear masks.

Until now, mask enforcement was by local guidance. But one day after President Joe Biden took office, he signed an executive order requiring mask wearing by federal employees and on federal land. The CDC’s order builds on this.

The new order says people must mask up when riding planes, trains, subways, taxis, ferry terminals and ride share services. It does not apply when someone is in their personal car.

The mandate gives airlines more teeth to enforce their own personal requirements to mask up because now it’s not their own policy but a federal order.

The CDC says in the order that transportation officials should do everything they can to ensure mask wearing, including “removing any person who refuses to comply,” and refusing entry to those without a face mask.

And yes, it must cover the mouth AND nose. The mask should also not have gaps, slips, punctures or exhalation valves.

Face shields and goggles can be used in addition to the mask, but not in lieu of.

A traveler at San Francisco International Airport said they are all for it. “I have been wearing a mask even before the federal mandate and for public transportation, I definitely support it,” said Alissa Aarhus.

The order takes effect just before midnight on Monday, and the Transportation Security Administration said it would start following it on Tuesday.

Exemptions include:

  • Briefly while eating, drinking or taking medication
  • When communicating with someone who is hearing impaired and requires seeing the mouth
  • If an oxygen mask is necessary on an airplane during an emergency
  • If unconscious or unable to remove mask on their own
  • Temporarily removing mask to verify identity

The order does not apply to children ages 2 and younger, people with a disability that makes mask-wearing unsafe, and people who would be at risk in the workplace if they wore a mask.

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