The White House Just Mandated Masks in These 5 Places

This coronavirus safety measure is one of Biden's first orders as president.

The coronavirus continues to surge across the U.S., but now, there is a new administration deciding how to handle the pandemic. As he campaigned, President Joe Biden often discussed his plans to implement new measures to fight the COVID spread, and some of that work is already underway. On his first day in office on Jan. 20, the president signed an order mandating masks and social distancing on all federal property and in federal buildings, but now, he's taken things one step further. While Biden has not revealed any plans to issue a national mask mandate, he announced on Jan. 21 that he was requiring the use of face coverings in some spaces beyond federal areas. Today, he signed an executive order that will mandate masks in five places. Read on to find out where you'll soon have to mask up, and for more on masks, know that If You Have This Mask, Get a New One Now, Experts Say.

1
Planes

Business man traveling and wearing a facemask on the plane while using his laptop– COVID-19 pandemic lifestyle concepts
iStock

Most American airlines have their own mask mandates already in place, but enforcing them has been a problem. According to a Jan. 13 statement from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there has been a "disturbing increase in incidents where airline passengers have disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior," which they say partly stems from passengers' refusal to wear masks. But the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA says a mandate from the White House will help introduce a standard for U.S. airlines, as well as back up flight attendants and other airline workers who attempt to enforce face mask compliance. And for more from the new administration, see why one New White House Adviser Says This One Thing Is About to Make COVID Worse.

2
Airports

A young woman sitting in an airport while wearing a face mask, sitting next to socially distanced seats
iStock

Biden isn't only requiring masks on airplanes, but as you travel through the airport, as well. After all, the CDC says this is where most of the risk of transmission lies when traveling by air. "Air travel often requires spending time in security lines and busy airport terminals," the CDC notes, which increases a person's potential exposure to COVID. Plus, an airport typically offers less air filtration and ventilation than an airplane itself.

3
Buses

mixed use commuters travelling by bus in the pandemic era
iStock

In guidance directed toward bus transit operators, the CDC said that workers should wear masks, as well as "strongly encourage" passengers to use masks. The agency had attempted to mandate masks on buses in September of last year, according to The New York Times. However, the Trump administration reportedly blocked the agency from doing so. And for more on the virus' spread, This Is How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State.

4
Trains

Woman sitting in the train and wearing a protective mask. She is looking trough the window.
iStock

A July study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found that the risk of COVID transmission on a train depended on where someone is sitting and how long they are traveling. It turns out, with windows not typically opening on trains, this mode of public transportation may be even riskier than buses due to lack of airflow. Fortunately, some major train companies, like Amtrak, have already mandated masks. But this order from Biden will enforce the usage of face coverings on all trains operating within the U.S. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

5
Maritime vessels

woman with protective face mask on the ferry
byakkaya / iStock

The last place masks will be mandated is on public maritime vessels, including ferries. Even though this mode of transportation is open air, the potential crowding is cause for concern. The CDC has long advised that maritime employees and travelers should "wear a face mask or cloth face covering when outside of individual cabins," but the new mandate from the White House will now require it. And for the face coverings to avoid, find out why The CDC Warns Against Using These 6 Face Masks.

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