U.S. CDC makes face masks compulsory on conveyances (including aeroplanes) and at transportation hubs (including airports)

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Wearing of face masks while on conveyances and at transportation hubs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an Order pdf icon[PDF – 11 pages] on January 29, 2021 requiring the wearing of masks by travellers to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Conveyance operators must also require all persons on board to wear masks when boarding, disembarking, and for the duration of travel. Operators of transportation hubs must require all persons to wear a mask when entering or on the premises of a transportation hub.

This Order must be followed by all passengers on public conveyances (e.g., aeroplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, ride-shares) travelling into, within, or out of the United States as well as conveyance operators (e.g., crew, drivers, conductors, and other workers involved in the operation of conveyances) and operators of transportation hubs ( e.g., airports, bus or ferry terminals, train or subway stations, seaports, ports of entry) or any other area that provides transportation in the United States.

People must wear masks that cover both the mouth and nose when awaiting, boarding, travelling on, or disembarking public conveyances. People must also wear masks when entering or on the premises of a transportation hub in the United States.

This 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 fulfil 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 fulfil the requirements of the Order.

The following do not fulfil 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.

Comment: Under the Trump administration, strangely enough, face masks were not compulsory on aeroplanes, but most airlines made them mandatory. People refusing to wear masks were blacklisted indefinitely.

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