COVID-19 has brought many changes over the last year and a half. Additionally, there’s a new administration in the White House that’s taking a different approach than the previous administration regarding the pandemic, particularly regarding a national mask mandate. In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, President Biden has begun his first year in office with an executive order requiring masks to be worn on public transportation, including planes.
How Does Biden’s New Mask Order Work?
The national mask mandate consists of two separate orders. As the name suggests, the 2021 mask mandate requires masks to be worn at all times on public transportation including airports, air planes, commercial aircrafts, trains, ferries, maritime vessels, subways, and busses.1
Transportation operators must require all persons onboard to wear a mask upon entering the premises as well as while boarding, traveling, and disembarking on their travels.2
In addition to public transportation and places of service, masks must be worn on federal property. Federal property is a building, land, or real property owned or leased by any government agency or department. While the majority of citizens find this to be a positive change, some have argued that only states and municipalities have the authority to implement a mask mandate.
What About the Places That Already Require Masks?
Although masks were required in specific places, the former President did not find it necessary to draft an executive order requiring a mask mandate across the country. This approach is notably different compared to the current administration’s position.
Trump prevented the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from enforcing any mask mandate at a local level. As a result, masks were not enforced in certain places. Certain government officials believed that a national mask mandate should not be forced by executive action but determined by state legislators. This is why the implementation and enforcement of wearing masks in public differ depending on the state.
How Does This Affect Public Transportation?
For those who use public transportation, from city busses and trains to ferries and airplanes, the mandate will require that every commuter and employee wear a mask on the premises.
Due to the enclosed, confining spaces in public transportation vehicles and vessels as well as the surfaces that many people will have likely come into contact with on public transportation, commuters have an increased risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus.
Will the 2021 Mask Mandate Make a Difference?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to promote the national mask mandate implemented by President Biden. Scientific evidence demonstrates that wearing a mask helps prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, especially on public transportation.
Hopefully, enforcing mask use on public transportation, including mask use on airplanes, will help stop the spread of COVID-19 virus.
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- White House – Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel
- CDC – CDC requires wearing of face masks while on public transportation and at transportation hubs