If thoughts of traveling without masks are dancing in your head, limit those thoughts to traveling in your own car: don’t expect public transportation. On February 1, a new CDC regulation came into force, according to which all travelers, conductors, drivers and station employees must wear masks. Here’s a simple guide on how to follow the new rules.

Where do i need a mask?

The CDC instruction “must be obeyed by all passengers using public transport.” This means, among other things, that you must wear a mask on:

  • Planes
  • Ships
  • Ferries
  • Trains
  • Subways
  • buses
  • Taxis
  • Carpooling
  • Transport hubs (think bus stops, airports, etc.)
  • Any other type of transportation

There are also local instructions to follow. In addition to ordering President Biden that masks be worn on all federal buildings, the CDC recommends wearing masks when you are around anyone outside your household.

Mask efficiency checklist

The CDC provides the following guidelines for acceptable masks:

  • A properly worn mask completely covers your nose and mouth.
  • Cloth masks should be made from two or more layers of breathable fabric that is tightly woven (that is, fabrics that do not let light through when held near a light source).
  • Masks should be attached to the head with ties, ear loops, or elastic bands behind the head. If gaiters are worn, they should have two layers of fabric or be folded in two.
  • The masks should fit snugly but lie comfortably against the side of the face.
  • Masks should be a solid piece of material with no slits, exhalation valves, or punctures.

As long as they meet these standards, face coverings can be homemade, manufactured, reusable, or disposable. Masks with clear plastic sheets for communicating with the hearing impaired are fine, as are medical masks and N-95.

If you want to choose a fabric mask with good protection, you should check out our coverage of studies where materials and layers offer the greatest protection.

What can I not wear?

The CDC also listed face coverings that did not meet the requirements of the order:

  • Masks that are worn so that the mouth and nose are not covered
  • Face shield or goggles that you wear yourself; These can be worn to complement a mask that meets the above specifications
  • Scarves, ski masks, balaclavas or headscarves
  • Shirt or sweater collars (e.g. turtlenecks) are pulled over the mouth and nose.
  • Masks made from loosely woven or knitted fabric, ie fabrics that let light through
  • Masks made from hard-to-breath materials (such as vinyl, plastic, or leather)
  • Masks with slits, exhalation valves or punctures
  • Masks that don’t fit properly (large gaps, too loose, or too tight)

What if I don’t wear one?

You will be denied entry or boarding and will be removed from the premises.

How long does the order take?

The order remains in force “until further notice” and has no end date. However, it can be assumed that it will persist for at least as long as pandemic-related emergencies do.

Sean Marsala is a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based health journalist. He loves technology, usually reads, surfs the internet, and explores virtual worlds.