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Federal mask mandate goes into effect today, with penalties

A new national mask mandate put in place by the CDC goes into effect today. Requirements to wear a mask apply to individuals traveling on buses, subways, trains, planes, taxis, ferries and other boats, taxis and other for-hire services including private Uber, Lyft drivers and other ride-sharing.

The new order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called Orwellian by some critics, also requires that the masks be approved by the federal government and be worn properly. The Biden regulations also say that if you don’t follow the rules you will not be allowed to travel.

The regulations will be enforced primarily by the TSA for planes and trains and by local and state officials for other transportation means. The CDC also requires federal agencies “to implement additional measures enforcing the provisions of this Order.”

CDC reserves the right to enforce through criminal penalties,” the agency stated, adding that the federal government may add “additional civil measures enforcing the provisions” of the order.

Civil liberties advocates say that creating such a vast network of federal and local agencies working together to inhibit travel or even monitoring of citizens through the mask mandate could be used for additional surveillance of American citizens.

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Reason magazine states that “deputizing federal agents, state authorities, and local cops to enforce transit mask rules will open up all sorts of new police harassment and abuse opportunities.”

The liberal publication says it “leaves a lot of room for authorities to choose who they target for enforcement.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also noted that “The CDC rule came just over a week after Biden’s executive order, which already mandated masks on certain modes of public transportation including planes and trains, and it mandated masks on federal property,”

The new regulations apply to all passengers, staff, or operators of any “aircraft, train, road vehicle, vessel…or other means of transport,” including “rideshares meaning arrangements where passengers travel in a privately owned road vehicle driven by its owner in connection with a fee or service.” The order also applies “on the premises of a transportation hub,” defined as “any airport, bus terminal, marina, seaport or other port, subway station, terminal (including any fixed facility at which passengers are picked-up or discharged), train station, U.S. port of entry, or any other location that provides transportation subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.”

The guidelines also allow for a handful of exceptions including kids under two who won’t be required to wear masks. Those with a disability who cannot safely wear a mask are also exempt though it was unclear how an individual would prove to law enforcement or TSA officials the validity of their exemption. Passengers would also be allowed to remove the masks “for brief periods,” such as to drink, eat or take medicine. It was not clear how law enforcement would enforce the age requirement for children because there is currently no identification requirements for children. At least for now.

The CDC also ordered airlines and other transportation modes to “at the earliest opportunity” remove any passenger who refuses to comply with the mask order. Anyone violating the order could face criminal charges.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice