Tue | Dec 1, 2020

CDC: ‘Strong recommendation’ but no rule for masks on planes

Published:Tuesday | October 20, 2020 | 5:07 PM
In this October 15, 2020, file photo, passenger Cari Driggs (right) from Provo, Utah, waits to board a United Airlines flight to Hawaii for a vacation at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco. The CDC is strongly recommending that passengers on planes, trains, and buses wear masks, but it's still stopping short of requiring face coverings to prevent spreading COVID-19. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

The United States Government’s top public health agency is raising the importance of wearing face masks on planes, trains, and buses, although the Trump administration has resisted making masks mandatory for travellers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new interim guidelines for travellers, including a “strong recommendation” to wear face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Transmission of the virus through travel has led to -- and continues to lead to -- interstate and international spread of the virus,” the CDC said in a statement.

“Local transmission can grow quickly into interstate and international transmission when infected persons travel on public conveyances without wearing a mask and with others who are not wearing masks.”

The CDC said its advice on masks should be followed by passengers and workers on planes, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-sharing vehicles, including in airports and at subway and bus stations.

The new guidance issued Monday includes more specific advice for travellers than CDC has previously given.

The agency said it was offering the new recommendations to support state and local health officials and transportation operators who have imposed their own mask rules.

Travellers are often in close contact with other people, sometimes for several hours, raising the risk of contracting or spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

Masks are necessary because travellers might not be able to keep six feet apart from others on planes and buses, CDC said.

All leading US airlines require passengers other than small children to wear masks during flights, but enforcement can be spotty.

The Federal Aviation Administration has declined to require masks, passing over requests by airline labour groups and some Democratic lawmakers.

Instead, the Transportation Department and other agencies issued health guidelines in July that left mask requirements and enforcement to individual airlines.

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