The Centers for Disease Control endorsed Monday what has already become a required practice around the country: recommending that anyone traveling on airlines, trains, subways, buses or other public transport wear a mask.
If passengers don’t comply, those who won’t put on masks should be ordered to get off when possible, the CDC says in its interim guidance on the issue. Airlines or other transportation providers should, “at the earliest opportunity, disembark any person who refuses to comply.”
The CDC’s “strong recommendation” could be a boost to airlines, ride-hailing drivers and others that have seen resistance by some passengers to rules requiring they wear masks while traveling in close proximity to strangers to ward off the spread of the coronavirus.
The only exceptions for not wearing a mask should be for those travelers who take them off while eating, drinking or taking medication; those who become incapacitated for any reason or can’t remove their masks by themselves; or when needed to show their identity, such as when traveling through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at an airport.
“Wide use of masks especially helps protect those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 as well as workers who frequently come into close contact with other people,” the CDC said in justifying its advice.
The advice notes that it’s not just the transportation itself that prevents an opportunity for the virus. It’s also anyplace where people gather while waiting to board, whether it’s an airport, train or bus station or subway platform.