WASHINGTON, D.C. – At just before midnight on Monday evening, a new mandate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) went into effect, requiring passengers and operators of public transportation to wear masks at all time in an attempt to curb the spread of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
According to medical experts, wearing a mask that covers the mouth and nose can help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 from person to person by blocking respiratory droplets, which are largely projected when you cough, sneeze, talk and sing.
The new CDC mandate goes hand-in-hand with an executive order signed by President Joe Biden on January 21 that made mask-wearing while on planes and trains a requirement. The mandate applies to anyone riding in any form of public transportation, including airplanes, boats, subways, taxis, trains, busses, as well as all ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.
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No one is exempt from the mask mandate, including passengers, drivers/operators or conductors. In addition, the mandate also applies to waiting areas such as airports, train platforms and subway stations.
Masks must adhere to government requirements – for example, a loose bandana would not be allowed – and can be removed for short periods while a passenger is eating or drinking, which some critics say leaves too much grey area in terms of how the mandate is enforced; how long is too long when eating a sandwich?
According to the CDC’s Director of Migration and Quarantine division, Dr. Marty Cetron, the mandate “will protect Americans and provide confidence that we can once again travel safely even during this pandemic.”
According to the mandate, refusal to wear a mask on public transportation is now a violation of federal law, enforced by the Transportation Security Administration and other federal, state and local authorities.