US CDC asks people to ‘mask up’ while travelling amidst Covid-19

Prashasti Awasthi | Updated on October 21, 2020

The health agency mandates use of mask at 7 places — airplanes, trains, subways, buses, taxis & cabs, rideshare vehicles, ships & ferries

Mumbai, October 21

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on October 19 issued updated health guidelines concerning the coronavirus pandemic.

These updates especially lay stress on the prevention of the transmission of the virus during travel. The new guidelines urge people to make travel safe during the pandemic. The advisory mostly talks about effective use of masks during travel.

The CDC stated on its official website: “Transmission of the virus through travel has led to — and continues to lead to — interstate and international spread of the virus. 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.”

Also read: Covid-19 cough clouds determine viral load in closed spaces: Study

The CDC mandates the mask at seven places:


The CDC stated that all air travellers must sport a face mask at all times. This is also a mandatory requirement by almost all airlines.


Travelling via trains poses a higher risk of contracting the virus because there is an inevitable proximity with other passengers for an extended period of time.


The lack of ventilation in subways also increases the risk of Covid-19 spread, especially in underground stations. Crowding also facilitates the infection. The health organization asked passengers to choose coaches with less crowding and avoid touching high-contact surfaces.

Hand sanitisers and appropriate hand hygiene is another essential aspect of travel, noted the CDC.


Although buses have fresher circulated air, which decreases the risk of coronavirus transmission compared to subways, it is still possible to get infected while travelling by buses.

Short rides or longer bus trips on coaches, both should be undertaken wearing masks, said the CDC.

Taxis and cabs

Taxis and cabs require touching high-contact surfaces and putting the rider in close proximity with the driver. The enclosed interiors of the car also raises the risk of coronavirus transmission. Thus, those riding cabs need to mask up.

Rideshare vehicles

Sharing a public transport cab or ride-sharing vehicle such as Uber and Lyft with another passenger mandates the use of a facemask to prevent spread of the infection.

Also read: Uber introduces rider mask verification selfie feature

Ships and ferries

Decks are open and well ventilated. However, the risk of crowding and travelling with an infected person remains, and thus all riders need to mask up.

The CDC further wrote: “Broad and routine utilisation of masks on our transportation systems will protect Americans and provide confidence that we can once again travel more safely even during this pandemic.”

Responding to CDC’s mandate, the US Travel Association said in an official statement: “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.”

Published on October 21, 2020

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