CDC Issues Order Requiring Wear Face Masks on Public Transportation

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an Order on January 29 requiring the wearing of masks (over the mouth and nose) by travelers to prevent spread of COVID-19. Conveyance operators must also require all persons onboard to wear masks when boarding, disembarking and for the duration of travel. Additionally, 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 (including, airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, ride-shares and more) traveling into, within or out of the United States, as well as conveyance operators (crew, drivers, conductors and others) and operators of transportation hubs (airports, bus or ferry terminals, train or subway stations, seaports, ports of entry) or any other area that provides transportation in the United States.

Conveyance operators are told to board only those who are wearing masks; instruct travelers that federal law requires wearing a mask and failure to comply violates federal law; monitor travelers onboard the conveyance for anyone who is not wearing a mask and to seek compliance from them; disembark anyone who refuses to comply; and provide travelers with prominent and adequate notice to facilitate awareness and compliance of the requirement to wear a mask.

The CDC’s order notes that the requirement to wear a mask shall not apply under several circumstances, including while eating, drinking or taking medications for brief periods; while communicating with someone who is hearing-impaired and the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication; if, on an aircraft, the wearing of oxygen masks is needed; and to verify one’s identity such as during a Transportation Security Administration screening or by a ticket or gate agent.

Excluded from the order are private conveyances operated for non-commercial use (among others).

For additional guidance on the use of masks to slow the spread of COVID-19, visit

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