COVID Face Masks Required: What You Need to Know About the US Federal Mask Mandate

Feb 22, 2021

While Texas lifts its mask mandate, the rest of the country is doubling down on masks. The Biden administration and the CDC are entering a new US Federal Mask Mandate. The mandate requires everyone to wear face masks in all major transportation hubs and on all modes of public transport. 

Today, we delve deeper into what the federal mask mandate involves and how Americans can make sure they are following the new rules.

When Does the Mandate Come Into Effect?

The federal mask mandate is already in play. President Biden signed the executive order for Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel as one of his first acts in office.

The order cites CDC, Surgeon General, and National Institute of Health reports on the importance of mask-wearing, physical distancing, and testing to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. With millions of domestic and international travelers taking to the air, roads, and railways, curbing risks is essential to prevent or at least reduce the spread of the disease.

What Does the Mandate Include?

The focus of the federal mask mandate centers around mass transportation. It affects every person who uses public transportation such as buses and subways. As well as domestic and international travelers on planes, trains, and public maritime vessels.

If you are using any form of public transportation in the US you must wear a COVID face mask. You must wear the mask both in the mode of transport and in related facilities. For instance, subway users must wear masks both on the subway and in the subway station.

Some personal transportation does not require mask use. Driving your own car or boat, for example. However, you may still have some limitations. For instance, the mandate does not require that you wear a mask on a private flight. Although, you must wear a mask in the airport itself. 

Additionally, you will still want to check with the service provider for your private flight, as they may enforce their own requirement for masks. Even where masks are not mandated, businesses and service providers reserve the right to refuse service or entry to people without masks should they so choose.

Finally, federal buildings also require everyone who enters to wear a mask. If a building, or an office-space within it, is federally owned mask-wearing is mandatory.

What to do if Federal and State Mandates Don’t Match?

As mentioned off the top, the state of Texas has ended its own mask mandate. Already, that is causing tension within the state as major cities, like Austin, still support mask use. At the same time, the dissonance between State and Federal mandates is causing confusion for civilians.

In short, most of the time you should follow the state regulations. However, if you are using public transportation or traveling between states, follow federal rules and wear a mask.

For federal buildings, there may be some discrepancy as the two mandates rub against each other. If entering a federal building, it is best to assume that the mask policy is being enforced. Once inside, follow cues from signage or ask employees to clarify mask regulation in that specific building. Keep in mind that while some government buildings may not enforce masks, others will. As such, it is best to assume you need a mask in a public building until you know otherwise.

Even if you are in a state that has lifted the mask mandate you may want to keep a COVID face mask onhand. At the moment, businesses still reserve the right to refuse entry or service to people not wearing masks—even in Texas. You don’t have to wear a mask, but refusing to do so may prevent you from certain venues and activities.

Stay Safe, Stay Comfortable

All the most reputable medical research and experts agree that mask-wearing is one of the most important steps individuals can take to stop the spread. Even if in places where you are not mandated to wear a mask, the safe choice is to use one in any public setting.

While wearing a mask all day at work, school, or even short grocery shopping excursions can be uncomfortable, it is a great way to protect yourself and others. Fortunately, there are options to make COVID face masks more comfortable. The PowerAir mask insert makes the mask fit more comfortably, breathe easier, and reduces the recycling of oxygen.
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