The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week issued a “strong recommendation” that all passengers and employees on airplanes and other forms of transportation, including trains and taxis, should wear face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In the new guidelines, released on Monday, the CDC explains that travel on public transportation increases the risk of spreading COVID-19, especially in cases in which passengers or employees cannot practice social distancing.
“Broad and routine utilization of masks on our transportation systems will protect Americans and provide confidence that we can once again travel more safely even during this pandemic,” the CDC said.
Most airlines and airports already have mask requirements in place, but the CDC said carriers should ensure all passengers and employees wear masks “for the duration of travel,” as well as where possible making masks available. The guidance also calls for facial coverings at transportation hubs like airports and train stations.
“Given how interconnected most transportation systems are across the nation and the world, local transmission can grow quickly into interstate and international transmission when infected persons travel on public conveyances without wearing a mask and with others who are not wearing masks,” the CDC’s guidance reads.
It includes some exemptions, including children under the age of two and others with written instructions from a medical provider not to wear masks.
The U.S. Travel Association praised the CDC guidance, saying “there simply cannot be an economic and jobs recovery unless travel is able to broadly resume, and the universal embrace of mask-wearing and other hygiene measures is the thing that is going to enable that to happen.
“The CDC’s latest message is helpful and clear, and will be important for promoting a crucial understanding heading into the holiday season: safe travel is absolutely possible as long as everyone in the travel ecosystem employs best health practices.”