February 29, 2024

From late Monday, all Americans will have to wear masks on public transport

Buses on 5th Avenue display "Mask Required" signs in New York on September 21, 2020.
Buses on 5th Avenue display “Mask Required” signs in New York on September 21, 2020. Michael Nagle/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Americans will have to wear a mask while using any form of public transportation — including buses, trains, taxis, planes, boats, subways or rideshare vehicles — from late Monday to slow the spread of Covid-19, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.

The order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. ET Monday.

The order, signed by Dr. Martin Cetron, director of CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, says people must wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth while on public transportation and while waiting for their ride. The mask needs to feature at least two layers of breathable fabric and secured to the head with ties, ear loops or elastic bands. 

Masks need to fit snugly and should not have exhalation valves or punctures. If someone chooses to wear a gaiter, it must be made with two layers of fabric or folded to have two layers. Face shields and goggles can supplement a mask, but cannot be worn in place of a mask. Scarves and bandanas do not fulfill the new requirement.

Children under the age of 2 or people with a disability who cannot wear a mask are exempt. 

In the order, which was announced late Friday, CDC said it reserves the right to enforce it through criminal penalties, but it “strongly encourages and anticipates widespread voluntary compliance” and expects support from other federal agencies.

The order will stay in effect until further notice.

The move comes after US President Joe Biden signed an executive order on January 21 that mandated interstate travelers wear a mask. On his first day in office, Biden challenged Americans to wear a mask for 100 days to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.