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Next Week on Public Transit, a New Mandate on Face Masks

Starting Monday, face coverings will be required on any public transportation in US, per CDC
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2021 6:00 AM CST

(Newser) – The CDC is hoping everyone gets on board with its newest coronavirus order, going into effect next week. Starting Monday at 11:59pm, anyone riding public transit in the US—including buses, trains and subways, planes, taxis, boats, and even Ubers or Lyfts—will be required to wear an appropriate face covering over the nose and mouth not only during the ride itself, but also while in waiting rooms, stations, and terminals, as well as while boarding and disembarking, CNN reports. The masks can either be commercially made or homemade, and passengers will be allowed to take them off in some situations, such as when they're eating, drinking, or taking meds. Exceptions under the mandate include children under the age of 2, as well as riders with certain medical issues.

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The CDC says it's hoping for "widespread voluntary compliance" with the new mandate, issued as part of a slew of COVID-related executive orders President Biden signed on his first full day in office, though it says it's ready to bring criminal penalties if need be. Operators have to put forth their "best efforts" at getting people to comply, and "at the earliest opportunity, [disembark] any person who refuses," the order reads, per the Washington Post. The mandate does fall short of considering non-mask wearers to be violating federal law, which would've made enforcement in some situations, such as on planes, easier, per Reuters. "Requiring masks on our transportation systems will protect Americans and provide confidence that we can once again travel safely even during this pandemic," reads the 11-page order. The CDC's lobby for a mask mandate on public transportation, as well as the same from Congress, was previously rebuffed by the Trump administration. (Read more face masks stories.)

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