WASHINGTON, Oct 19 (Reuters) - The U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention on Monday issued a "strong
recommendation" that all passengers and employees on airplanes,
trains, subways, buses, taxis and ride-share vehicles should
wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The interim guidance also calls for facial coverings at
transportation hubs like airports and train stations.
"Broad and routine utilization of masks on our
transportation systems will protect Americans and provide
confidence that we can once again travel more safely even during
this pandemic," the CDC said.
Airlines, Amtrak and most public transit systems and U.S.
airports already require all passengers and workers to wear
facial coverings, as do most airports, and ride-sharing firms
Uber and Lyft.
But the White House in July opposed language in a bill
before Congress that would have mandated all airline, train and
public transit passengers and workers to wear masks. The White
House did not immediately comment on the CDC recommendation.
In July, the White House Office of Management and Budget
said legislation requiring masks was "overly restrictive." It
added that "such decisions should be left to states, local
governments, transportation systems, and public health leaders."
The CDC said transport operators should ensure all
passengers and employees wear masks "for the duration of travel"
and should provide information to "people purchasing tickets or
otherwise booking transportation" on the need to wear masks, as
well as where possible making masks available.
It said transit operators could exempt children under two or
people with written instructions from a medical provider.
The U.S. Travel Association praised the CDC guidance. "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," the group said.
U.S. airlines have collectively banned hundreds of flyers
for failing to wear masks after they began requiring masks in
Airlines for America, a trade group representing major
airlines, said the "face-covering requirement along with
enhanced disinfection practices and health acknowledgement forms
are key components in our multi-layered approach to protecting
the well-being of our employees and the traveling public."
(Reporting by David Shepardson
Editing by Chris Reese and Rosalba O'Brien and Aurora Ellis)