CDC Issues Order Requiring Travelers to Wear Face Masks on All Planes and Public Transportation

All passengers traveling via public transportation in the United States will soon be required to wear a face mask to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated in a new order on Friday.

According to the order, which goes into effect Monday, Feb. 1 at 11:59 p.m., all travelers must wear a face mask while "awaiting, boarding, disembarking, or traveling on airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares as they are traveling into, within, or out of the United States and U.S. territories."

Travelers must also wear masks while at transportation hubs such as airports, bus or ferry terminals, trains and subway stations, seaports, or any location where people board public transportation.

The order states that a mask must completely cover the passenger's mouth and nose. However, travelers may remove their face masks while eating, drinking or taking medication.

A mask is also not required while communicating with a person who is hearing impaired when the "ability to see the mouth is essential for communication."

The CDC said children under 2 years old as well as those who cannot wear a mask due to a disability are not required to wear a face covering. The health organization "reserves the right to enforce through criminal penalties," the order stated.

The new order issued stricter guidelines than those outlined in the executive order signed by President Joe Biden on Jan. 21 requiring face masks to be worn while traveling.

One day after the CDC issued the order, the United States surpassed 26 million total cases of the coronavirus.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there have been 26,022,247 total cases of the illness and 438,452 people have died from the virus.

Since the first case of COVID-19 reached the U.S. in January 2020, it took the country 311 days to reach the first 13 million total cases. To reach the second 13 million cases, it only took the nation 64 days, CNN reported.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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