Making good on President Biden’s position that everyone should wear a mask when using public transportation, the CDC issued an Order effective February 2nd requiring all travelers using public transportation to wear masks while boarding, traveling and disembarking. The Order requires all travelers, crew, and people who work at the transportation hub (airport, train station, port, bus depot, etc.) to wear a mask when travelling and when at the hub. The Order allows operators of public transportation and public transportation hubs to adopt additional practices that are more protective of public health and more restrictive than the CDC Order.
In the Federal Register Notice announcing the Order and the Order itself, the CDC describes in detail what types of properly worn masks satisfy this Order and what types of masks do not. For example, masks should not have exhalation valves and if a face shield is worn, it must be worn on top of a mask that is otherwise acceptable under the Order.
The Order does not apply to your personal vehicle if you are using it for personal, non-commercial use, but it does apply to rideshare arrangements for a fee or service. The Order also does not apply to commercial motor vehicles or trucks as defined by DOT regulation at 49 CFR 390.5 if the driver is the only person in the vehicle, and it does not apply to vehicles operated or chartered by the US military.
The Order provides an exemption for individuals under 2 years of age, individuals who cannot wear a mask due to workplace safety, and individuals with disabilities who cannot wear masks. The Order says CDC will be issuing further guidance regarding the exception for disabled individuals.
You do not have to wear a mask for brief periods when you are: eating; drinking; taking medication; using an oxygen mask due to loss of cabin pressure or ventilation issue; when unconscious, incapacitated or when you can’t remove the mask without assistance; when you need to remove to the mask to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired and they need to see your mouth to communicate (for example, masks with clear plastic panels 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); or when you need to pull your mask down to prove your identity. And yes, you have to wear your mask while you are sleeping on public transportation.