Federal mask mandate starts Tuesday. Here are the rules.

Posted Feb 01, 2021

Riding the train, bus or plane? Make sure you’re masked up by midnight.

If you haven’t been wearing a facial covering on public transit, airliners or in federal buildings, the federal government is officially telling you to mask-up or else.

An executive order mandating the wearing of masks on transportation vehicles and stations or airport and in federal buildings takes effect at 11:59 p.m., Feb. 1 to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The executive order by President Joe Biden, follows what has been a factor of regular life in New Jersey and New York since the pandemic picked up steam last Spring. A Jan. 29 order by the Centers for Disease Control spelled it out what it means for passengers – if it moves, flies or floats and the public rides it, face coverings must be worn.

The same goes for going to the post office or any other federal office building. It also includes airports, train and bus stations, ferry terminals and seaports. Mask-on or go home.

Jersey drivers and commuters might say “so what”, since Gov. Phil Murphy has mandated masks be worn on NJ Transit and other mass transit since April 11.

Individual ride share companies such as Uber and Lyft have made mask wearing a condition of transportation, requiring riders using their app to agree to wear a mask before they are picked up. The CDC order also covers taxicabs.

“The new security directive for surface transit mirrors what we do – require a face covering,” said Christopher Trucillo, NJ Transit police chief.

Transportation Security Administration officers will be among those enforcing the requirement in transportation facilities and on vehicles across the county, said Lisa Farbstein, a spokeswoman. Other federal authorities also will enforcing the requirement.

Passengers who don’t comply with the face covering requirement face being kicked off whatever they’re riding at the earliest opportunity, the CDC said. They also could face federal civil charges and fines.

While people in other parts of the country might have some difficulty getting in the swing of wearing a mask, Jersey passengers seem to be getting the hang of it.

Total scofflaws who refuse to even wear a free mask handed to them by authorities on the PATH rail system and NYC Transit have been issued a summons that carries a $50 fine. NJ Transit police also have sparingly citied passengers who refuse to comply, even after being offered a free mask.

NJ Transit police conducted 138 mask check details in stations and on vehicles and responded to 11 calls about mask non-compliance, Trucillo said on Friday. “They were all resolved and we issued no summons during the week of (Jan.) 17 to 22,” he said.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has handed out more than 1 million free masks to passengers at airports, bus terminals and PATH rail systems since July, said Scott Ladd, spokesman.

Both the bi-state airports and major NJ Transit stations have Personal Protective Equipment Vending Machines.

What doesn’t qualify as a CDC approved face covering? Face shields or goggles, they can be worn to supplement a mask, but not instead of a face covering. Scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, or bandannas or pulling a shirt or sweater over your nose also doesn’t count.

A mask your mom or daughter kitted you also isn’t acceptable, as pretty as it might be. The CDC won’t accept masks made from loosely woven fabric or that are knitted. If light can pass through it, it’s no good. There are some medical exceptions and the 11-page rule spelled them out on the CDC website. The medical rationale is also in the order.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-02-02 03:29:40 -0800