Written by Bernie Carr
I’ve been reading bits and pieces of information regarding face masks in recent days. Some of the information circulating appear to be suggestions, such as double masking, but some are actually new regulations and you can get fined if you don’t comply. President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel includes wearing masks by travelers domestically and internationally. When I write about mask wearing, some readers get aggravated as this topic seems to be a hot button for some people. This is an informational article, not a statement of being for or against mask wearing.
If you travel anywhere, at any time, you will be required to wear a mask:
- bus stations
- train rail stations
- boats and ferries
- passenger aircraft
- public transportation
- passenger railroads
- buses operating on scheduled fixed-routes
- ride-shares are included in this regulation.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will enforce these regulations. Passengers who refuse to wear a mask will not be allowed to enter, board or continue to another transport.
When are you able to take the mask off?
There are certain exceptions to the mask requirement according to the CDC:
•While eating, drinking, or taking medication, for brief periods;
•While communicating with a person who is hearing impaired when the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication;
•If, on an aircraft, wearing of oxygen masks is needed because of loss of cabin pressure or other event affecting aircraft ventilation;
•If unconscious (for reasons other than sleeping), incapacitated, unable to be awakened, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance;
•When necessary to temporarily remove the mask to verify one’s identity such as during Transportation Security Administration screening or when asked to do so by the ticket or gate agent or any law enforcement officialSource: CDC.gov
When does this take effect?
According to the TSA website, “Starting on February 2, 2021, TSA will require individuals to wear a mask at TSA airport screening checkpoints and throughout the commercial and public transportation systems. This requirement will remain effective until May 11, 2021.”
At this time, the TSA is recommending fines ranging from $250 for the first offense; repeat offenders may be fined up to $1500. Transportation system operators have been given instructions on reporting violations (such as refusal to wear a face mask) to the TSA so that penalties will be levied.
The National Park Service (NPS) is now requiring mask wearing by all employees, visitors, partners and contractors who visit national parks.
According the the NPS website:
Face masks are now required in all NPS buildings and facilities. Masks are also required on NPS-managed lands when physical distancing cannot be maintained, including narrow or busy trails, overlooks and historic homes. Additional public health measures are in place across the service, from capacity limits to one-way trails, or even temporary closures in response to local conditions.Source: NPS.gov
Park rangers are tasked with providing information, protecting visitors and public lands, as well as enforcing mask rules.
If you plan on visiting national parks, be prepared to wear a mask indoors at information centers and ranger stations, historic sites as well as outdoors at narrow or busy trails.
Who needs to wear a mask?
According to the CDC, masks must be worn by anyone age two or older.
Masks should NOT be worn by children under age 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing.
Masks should be worn in addition to staying at least 6 feet apart, especially if indoors around people who don’t live with you.
If someone in your household is infected, people in the household should take precautions including wearing masks to avoid transmission to others.
The following exceptions apply:
•Children under two year of age
•A person with a disability who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, because of the disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act
•A person for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by the relevant workplace safety guidelines or federal regulations.
What type of mask is required?
The CDC has also defined proper types of masks:
- Have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric
- Completely cover your nose and mouth
- Fit snugly against the sides of your face and don’t have gaps
- If you wear glasses, choose masks that have a nose wire, or one that fits snugly over your nose to avoid fogging.
- For children, choose masks that are specifically made for kids so that they fit properly.
Avoid choosing these masks:
- Masks that do not cover both the mouth and nose
- Face shields or goggles (these may be worn IN ADDITION to a mask)
- Scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, or bandannas
- Shirt or sweater collars pulled up over the mouth and nose.
- Masks made from loosely woven fabric or that are knitted – see if the fabric lets light pass through
- Vinyl, plastic or leather masks that make it hard to breath
- Masks with punctures, slits, or exhalation valves
- Poorly fitted masks that have large gaps, too loose or too tight
The final word
Less than a year ago, people were told not to wear masks; now they are mandatory with penalties involved.
Do an inventory of your masks and make sure they fit properly. Keep a spare mask in your pocket or purse.
It’s unclear who will be enforcing mask regulations in areas other than transportation hubs such as bus and train stations or airports, or in national parks. Since mask wearing is now being enforced in many places, it’s best to be aware of the new rules.
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About the author:
Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and Clark.com, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.