Although usage is already widespread, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued formal guidance recommending the wearing of face masks while traveling to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

The statement says that guidance should be followed by passengers on public conveyances that include airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, ride-shares as well as operators of those conveyances.

The CDC says that face masks help prevent people who have COVID-19, including those who are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic, from spreading the virus to others. Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings. 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. Using masks along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, is one of the most effective strategies available for reducing COVID-19 transmission.

The CDC goes on to say that America’s transportation systems are essential. Not only are they essential for public health, they are also vital for America’s economy and other bedrocks of American life.

“The CDC’s new guidance really says it all: ‘America’s transportation systems are essential…for America’s economy and other bedrocks of American life.’ 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,” says U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “That’s why the travel industry has been emphasizing the necessity of masks since the early days of the pandemic, and will keep repeating it as often as we need to until it’s fully automatic behavior among travelers. 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.”

Appropriately worn masks reduce the spread of COVID-19—particularly given the evidence of pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. Many countries, states, territories, tribes, and local authorities have implemented mask requirements within their jurisdictional boundaries, including on public conveyances and associated boarding terminals, to protect public health and reduce the spread of COVID-19 within and between communities. Transportation partners, including airlines, train and bus operators, and taxi and ride-share companies, have also issued mask requirements on their conveyances.

“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. Therefore, CDC is providing this guidance to further support state and local health authorities, transportation partners, and conveyance operators who have implemented requirements for masks to support passenger and crew safety, maintain safe and operational transportation systems, mitigate further introduction and spread of COVID-19, and help safely re-open America’s economy.

CDC strongly recommends appropriate masks be worn by all passengers and by all personnel operating the conveyance while on public conveyances (e.g., airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, ride-shares) and within locations where people board such conveyances (e.g. airports, bus or ferry terminals, train stations, seaports).

  • People should wear masks that cover both the mouth and nose when waiting or, traveling on, or departing from public conveyances. People should also wear masks at an airport, bus or ferry terminal, train or subway station, seaport, or similar area that provides transportation.
  • People should wear masks when traveling into, within, or out of the United States on conveyances.

For more information, go www.cdc.gov or www.ustravel.org. Stories about future travel can be accessed at #AmazingDaysAhead.