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US imposes federal mask mandate on all forms of public transportation from February 1

 Starting from February 1, people in the US must wear masks on planes, trains, subways, buses, taxis, ships, and ferries. They must do the same in transportation hubs, including airports, train stations, and bus terminals.

Transportation companies and personnel were instructed to deny service to maskless passengers and to otherwise enforce the new rules.

The CDC said that surgical masks and N95 respirators fulfill the requirements of the order. Homemade masks are permitted too, as long as they completely cover the nose and mouth, and are “a solid piece of material without slits, exhalation valves, or punctures.”

Masks should have ear loops or elastic bands, and should “fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face,” the CDC added.

This makes the new rules less stringent than, for example, those in Austria, which recently instructed citizens to only wear higher-grade FFP2 respirators on public transportation and in supermarkets. In Germany, the orders are strict as well, with only higher-grade surgical masks and N95 and FFP2 respirators allowed.

The change comes shortly after President Joe Biden ordered the CDC and other health agencies to require masks on “all forms of public transportation,” including buses, trains, and aircraft. He also ordered officials to boost efforts aimed at “maximizing public compliance” with mask-wearing.

Biden frequently mentioned a federal mask mandate during his election campaign and said that masks are one of the keys to overcoming the pandemic.

In its most recent review, the CDC warned that the Covid-19 hospitalization rate “has remained in an elevated plateau above earlier peaks in the pandemic.”

Overall, the US has had almost 26 million Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, and over 430,000 deaths.

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