According to the federal face mask requirements issued by the Transportation Security Administration as well as an order issued by the CDC, the mandate is still in effect for passengers and operators of public conveyances. This includes airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis and rideshares. This federal requirement remains in effect through Sept. 13.
"Unless otherwise required by the operator, or federal, state, tribal, territorial or local government, people are not required to wear a mask when located in outdoor areas of a conveyance (if such outdoor areas exist on the conveyance)," wrote the CDC on its website.
The CDC does not mandate the wearing of face masks in the outdoor areas of public conveyances. But the agency does strongly recommend keeping the mask on even if a passenger is outdoors like in the top deck of a bus or the outdoor areas of a ferry.
The federal mask mandate was implemented after President Joe Biden's Executive Order 13998, "Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel." He issued this executive order on the day after his inauguration. He claimed the order was implemented "to save lives and allow all Americans, including the millions of people employed in the transportation industry, to travel and work safely."
A group of Republican senators has spoken out against the CDC's mask mandate for people in public transportation, notably Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
Cruz slammed the airline masking guidelines as "performative theater."
"The last I checked under our constitutional system if federal law requires it then it is appropriate for the United States Congress to make that determination," said Cruz during a congressional hearing. "Because the only way something becomes federal law in this country is if Congress passes a law and it's signed by the president."
Cruz pointed out during the hearing how hypocritical it was that vaccinated government officials don't need to wear masks in most situations, but the federal mandates require airline passengers to wear them at all times.
"This mandate right now is hurting the aviation industry because it is depressing demand for commercial aviation," said Cruz. "This is performative theater. This is not science, this is not keeping anyone safe." (Related: Man sues 7 airlines for discriminating against travelers with medical conditions.)
Similarly, Wicker said the continued federal mask mandate on planes and trains is "hogwash."
In a Facebook post, Wicker said it does not make sense for there to be a mandate on trains and plains while there is no mandate for similarly enclosed spaces like restaurants. He said:
"The outbreak of COVID-19 challenged each of us in extraordinary ways, but it is time to reclaim what the past months took from our country… The mask mandate for travelers remains until September 13, yet there remains no federal mask mandate for other public areas, including restaurants and shops. I am calling for these mask mandates to end. It's time to get back to normal."
Both Wicker and Cruz have recently called on the CDC to issue new guidelines dropping the federal mask mandate for public transportation. They are being supported by fellow Republicans Sens. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Susan Collins of Maine and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.
Learn more about the federal, state and local mask mandates in the U.S. by reading the latest articles at Vaccines.news.