U.S. travelers and commuters will be required to wear a mask on nearly all forms of public transportation and inside of transportation hubs, according to a late Friday emergency order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The mandate, which goes into effect on Tuesday and applies to most everyone over the age of two, effectively reverses the Trump administration’s policy. It follows an executive order issued by President Joe Biden on Jan. 21, which required passengers to wear face covering during interstate travel.
“Requiring masks on our transportation systems will protect Americans and provide confidence that we can once again travel safely even during this pandemic,” according to the 11-page order signed by Marty Cetron, director for CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine. “Increasing universal masking by 15% could prevent the need for lockdowns and reduce associated losses of up to $1 trillion or about 5% of gross domestic product.”
A CDC push to mandate masks in transit was blocked under President Donald Trump. Instead, the agency issued strong recommendations for mask use. Mr. Trump also rejected efforts by Congress to mandate mask use.
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The order exempts people with disabilities who cannot wear a mask and private cars for personal use. People will also be allowed to take their mask off to eat or drink or to identify themselves. Bus drivers and other operators will be in charge of enforcing the new order, which calls for anyone disobeying to be kicked off the vehicle.
The order comes as 25.9 million people in the U.S. have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began, accounting for more than a quarter of the global total.
The CDC on Friday also extended a moratorium on tenant evictions related to a failure to make rent or housing payments. The order, which was scheduled to expire on Jan. 31, will run through March 31.
The protection is limited to renters earning no more than $99,000 a year or a couple earning no more than $198,000.
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