As COVID-19 rages on in the United States, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a sweeping mandatory mask order late Friday requiring people to wear “two or more layers” of face masks while using any form of public transportation. The order goes into effect at 11:59 P.M. EST Monday, February 1.
The 11-page order requires face masks to be worn by all travelers on airplanes, ships, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares and at transportation hubs like airports, bus or ferry terminals, train and subway stations, and seaports.
According to the CDC, masks must be worn while waiting, boarding, traveling and disembarking, it said. The coverings need to be at least two or more layers of breathable fabric secured to the head with ties, ear loops, or elastic bands — and scarves and bandanas do not count.
The CDC also added that it reserves the right to enforce the order through criminal penalties, but it “strongly encourages and anticipates widespread voluntary compliance” and expects support from other federal agencies to implement the order.
“While this Order may be enforced and CDC reserves the right to enforce through criminal penalties, CDC does not intend to rely primarily on these criminal penalties but instead strongly encourages and anticipates widespread voluntary compliance as well as support from other federal agencies in implementing additional civil measures en-forcing the provisions of this Order, to the extent permitted by law and consistent with President Biden’s Executive Order of January 21, 2021 (Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel).”
Masks must be worn while waiting, boarding, traveling, and disembarking, it said. The coverings need to be at least two or more layers of breathable fabric secured to the head with ties, ear loops or elastic bands — and scarves and bandanas do not count, the order says.
CDC has issued an order requiring everyone to wear a mask while traveling on public transportation into or within the US (including airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, ride-shares). Wearing a mask reduces the spread of #COVID19. More: https://t.co/bpOhIx8xbS pic.twitter.com/AbBtmEejWV
— CDC (@CDCgov) January 30, 2021
The CDC said it reserves the right to enforce the order through criminal penalties, but it “strongly encourages and anticipates widespread voluntary compliance” and expects support from other federal agencies to implement the order.
The Order pdf icon[PDF – 11 pages] will be effective on February 1, 2021, at 11:59 pm (EST).
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)
Additional guidance on the use of masks to slow the spread of COVID-19 is available on CDC’s website.
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