If you're one of those who refuse to wear a mask in public, your life just got a little tougher. The Centers for Disease Control has issued a mandate that everyone boarding a cruise ship, train, plane, subway, ride-share, taxi or any other public transport is required to a mask — effective today.
The goal: To tamp down the pandemic
This stricter rule is in an attempt to combat the spread of the debilitating and sometimes lethal strains of coronavirus that cause COVID-19. And wearing a mask is a proven deterrent for transmission.
The mask order puts the onus on all operators of transportation to enforce it.
The CDC states that people must wear masks that cover both the mouth and nose when awaiting, boarding, traveling on, or disembarking public conveyances. People must also wear masks when entering or on the premises of a transportation hub in the United States. Here's a PDF of the full order.
CDC lays down the law
Here are the specifics of the order:
- 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).
- The 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 fulfill the requirements of the order.
Coverings that fall short of the requirements
The following do not fulfill 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 the CDC’s website.
The bottom line? People who refuse to follow the rule not be able to travel on any public transport. So if this is something you can't abide, it's best to postpone your travel plans. Mask have been proved to be effective in helping stop the transmission of COVID19 among people especially when combined with social distancing and good hygiene.