World

US health agency makes masks compulsory on all public transportation

WASHINGTON: The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued a sweeping order requiring the wearing of masks to protect against the spread of Covid-19 on virtually every form of public transportation in the country.

The order, issued late Friday, extends to travel on planes, trains, buses, taxis, ride-shares, subways, ferries and ships.

It expands on one of the first executive orders signed by President Joe Biden, which required masking for interstate travel as part of a larger strategy to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

The new order takes effect tomorrow.

"Wearing masks on our transportation systems will protect Americans and provide confidence that we can once again travel safely even during this pandemic," the order states.

"Therefore, requiring masks will help us control this pandemic and aid in reopening America's economy."

The CDC order covers passengers and transportation operators both during travel and while waiting in transportation hubs.

It said operators must make "best efforts" to enforce mask wearing, and, if necessary, disembark anyone refusing to comply.

It says that enforcement will ultimately be the responsibility of the Transportation Security Administration, as well as "cooperating state and local authorities". Noncompliance means "a violation of federal law", the order said.

Exemptions are allowed for people eating, drinking or taking medication, as well as those communicating with the hearing-impaired. Masks can also be removed for identity checks. - AFP

WORLD