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Protect Yourself When Using Transportation

Protect Yourself When Using Transportation

Public transit, rideshares and taxis, micro-mobility devices, and personal vehicles

Summary of Recent Changes

As of February 17, 2021

  • Re-ordering of prevention measures under each section.
  • Added guidance about eating in public transportation situations.
  • Updated guidance about proper mask use.
  • Other small changes for guidance consistency. ​

Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when in public settings. Effective February 2, 2021, masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.​

As schools, businesses, and community organizations continue to provide essential services during the pandemic, follow these guidelines to protect yourself and slow the spread of COVID-19 when using transportation. See CDC’s tips for how to stay safe while running errands.

Everyone, especially those at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and people who live with them, should avoid non-essential travel. Travel increases your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19. CDC recommends that you do not travel at this time. Postpone travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Some people should not travel. People who are sick, have recently tested positive for COVID-19, or have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 pose a very high risk to others during travel.

People can take steps to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19 to protect themselves, their communities, and people who are at increased risk of severe illness. Wear a mask. Stay 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from others. Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated places. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

This guidance provides information on using transportation within your local community to accomplish everyday activities. Find information about traveling outside of your local community (air travel, RV travel, etc.) here.

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For all types of transportation

When using any type of transportation, follow these general principles:

Wear Masks.

  • Wear a mask covering your nose and mouth at all times in public settings and inside any public or private vehicle or mode of transport when around people who do not live in your household, especially when physical distancing is difficult. Masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. This requirement includes taxis and rideshares as well.
    • The following categories of people are exempt from the requirement to wear a mask:
      • A child under the age of 2 years;
      • A person with a disability who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, for reasons related to the disability;
      • 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.
  • By 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. Your mask helps to protect those around you in case you are infected, even if you are not showing symptoms, while offering some protection for you too.

Practice physical distancing.

  • During travel, avoid crowds and keep at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from people who are not in your household — for example, when you are waiting at a bus station or selecting seats on a train.

Practice hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.

  • Before you use any type of transportation, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Once you reach your destination, wash your hands again with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol as soon as possible upon arrival.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in the trash and wash your hands immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Stay home when possible.

  • People who are sick, have tested positive for COVID-19, or who have recently had a close contact (closer than 6 feet for at least 15 minutes combined over a 24-hour period) to a person with COVID-19 should not use transportation options that may put them in close contact with others (for example, public transit, rideshare, or taxis) and should stay home except to seek medical care. If they need to travel for medical care, they should travel by ambulance or private vehicle. If they use transportation services for medical needs, they should call ahead to notify the service of their illness so they can take precautions to protect the driver and other staff. No other passengers should share the vehicle.
  • If you are sick and public transportation is your only option when seeking medical care, wear a mask over your nose and mouth, practice physical distancing (staying at least 6 feet away from other people as much as possible), and practice hand hygiene, including using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available. For non-emergency medical care, make an appointment ahead of time and, if using public transportation, travel during non-peak hours, if possible.

Have adequate supplies

  • Before traveling, pack sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol (in case you are unable to wash your hands at your destination).
  • Bring your mask to wear at all times —especially while riding on a train or bus, waiting at a rest stop, or riding in a car with people outside your household.
  • Bring extra masks in case your mask gets wet or dirty and a plastic bag that can be sealed to store wet or dirty masks.

Protect people at risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

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Public transit

Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when in public settings. Assure that the mask is being worn properly. Effective February 2, 2021, masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.​ Wearing a face mask while on public conveyances and at transportation hubs is required.

Follow the general principles listed above, plus the following:

Stay up-to-date.

  • Stay informed about federal mask requirements on public transit.
  • Check with local transit authorities for the latest information on changes to services and procedures, especially if you might need additional assistance.

Practice physical distancing.

  • When possible, consider traveling during non-peak hours when there are likely to be fewer people.
  • Follow physical distancing guidelines by staying at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from people who are not from your household. For example:
    • Avoid gathering in groups, and stay out of crowded spaces when possible, especially at transit stations and stops.
    • Consider skipping a row of seats between yourself and other riders if possible.
    • Enter and exit buses through rear entry doors if possible.
    • Look for physical distancing instructions or physical guides offered by transit authorities (for example, floor decals or signs indicating where to stand or sit to remain at least 6 feet or about 2 arm lengths apart from others).

Practice hand hygiene.

  • After you leave the transit station or stop, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, or wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • When you arrive at your destination, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

Avoid touching surfaces.

  • As much as possible, limit touching frequently touched surfaces such as kiosks, digital interfaces such as touchscreens and fingerprint scanners, ticket machines, turnstiles, handrails, restroom surfaces, elevator buttons, and benches.
    • If you must touch these surfaces, as soon as you can, wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or properly apply alcohol-based  sanitizer containing 60% alcohol, by rubbing the gel all over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry.
    • Stay informed about how to select and use hand sanitizer.
  • Use touchless payment and no-touch trash cans and doors when available. Exchange cash or credit cards by placing them in a receipt tray or on the counter rather than by hand, if possible.

Do not eat or drink on public transit.

  • Refrain from eating or drinking on public transit to ensure mask use at all times. Plan to eat and drink outside of the vehicle when you are not near other people.
  • If you would like to eat or drink after exiting the public transportation, be sure to find a space at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) away from other people and wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol before eating or drinking and before removing your mask or touching your face.
  • Stay informed about how to wear and safely remove masks before eating.
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Rideshare, carpool, taxi, limo for-hire vehicle passengers

Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when in public settings. Effective February 2, 2021, masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.​

Follow the general principles listed above, plus the following:

Stay up-to-date.

Avoid riding with unmasked drivers or passengers.

  • Avoid a vehicle in which the driver or other passengers are not properly using masks covering their nose and mouth.

Practice physical distancing.

  • Limit the number of passengers in the vehicle to only those who need to travel with you.
  • Avoid shared rides where multiple passengers are picked up who are not in the same household.
  • Sit in the back seat in larger vehicles, such as vans and buses, so you can remain at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) away, or as far as possible, from the driver. When possible, sit in the rear seat diagonally across from the driver.

Improve ventilation.

  • Ask the driver to improve the ventilation in the vehicle if possible — for example, by opening the windows or setting the air ventilation/air conditioning on non-recirculation mode.

Avoid touching surfaces.

  • Avoid contact with surfaces frequently touched by passengers or drivers, such as the door frame and handles, windows, and other vehicle parts. In circumstances where such contact is unavoidable, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol or soap and water as soon as possible afterwards.
  • Avoid accepting offers of free water bottles and avoid touching magazines or other items that may be provided for free to passengers.
  • Use touchless payment when available.

Practice hand hygiene.

  • After leaving the vehicle, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • When you arrive at your destination, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Do not eat or drink when using rideshare.

  • Refrain from eating or drinking in a rideshare vehicle to ensure mask use at all times. Plan to eat and drink outside of the vehicle when you are not near other people.
  • If you would like to eat or drink after exiting a rideshare vehicle, be sure to find a space at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) away from other people and wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer before eating or drinking and before removing your mask or touching your face.
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Shared automobiles, rental cars, scooters, skateboards, and other micro-mobility devices

Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when in public settings. Effective February 2, 2021, masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.​

Follow the general principles listed above, plus the following:

Cleaning and disinfecting.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly (for example, the steering wheel, gear shift, door frame/handles, windows, radio/temperature dials, handlebars, gears, braking handles, locks, and seatbelt buckles) or shared equipment before you use it. Use disinfecting wipes if available.

When using parking meters and pay stations, consider using alcohol wipes to disinfect surfaces or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol after use. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as soon as it is possible.

  • Avoid touching surfaces and use touchless payment when available and if applicable.
  • Practice hand hygiene. After completing your trip, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
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Personal vehicles

Follow the general principles listed above, plus the following:

Practice physical distancing.

  • Limit the number of passengers in the vehicle to only those necessary (for example, choose one or two family members who are not at higher risk for severe illness to run the essential errands).

Improve ventilation.

  • Improve the ventilation in the vehicle if possible (for example, open the windows or set the air ventilation/air conditioning on non-recirculation mode). If using a rental car, make sure to ventilate the vehicle during use.

Sanitize surfaces.

  • If using a rental car, sanitize the door handles, steering wheel, and other surfaces before use.
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Paratransit services

Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when in public settings. Effective February 2, 2021, masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.​ If using paratransit services, call ahead to notify the service of your illness so they can take precautions to protect the driver and other staff.

Paratransit services are van and taxi programs for people who are unable to independently use public transportation because of a disability or disabling health condition. The Americans with Disabilities Act external icon requires public transit agencies that provide fixed-route service to provide paratransit services to qualified people with disabilities. Paratransit transportation is considered an essential service, which can help people with disabilities engage in activities to support their health and safety, such as visiting a healthcare professional and obtaining food, medications, and medical supplies.

Follow the general principles listed above, plus the following:

Stay up to date.

  • Contact your local paratransit program for the latest information on changes to paratransit services and procedures.

Wear masks.

  • Wear a mask covering your nose and mouth in public settings and in vehicles when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when physical distancing is difficult.
  • The following categories of people are exempt from the requirement to wear a mask:
    • A child under the age of 2 years;
    • A person with a disability who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, for reasons related to the disability;
    • 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.

Practice physical distancing.

  • When possible, consider traveling during non-peak hours when there are likely to be fewer passengers.
  • When possible, sit in the back of larger vehicles such as vans so you can remain at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) away from the driver and other passengers during the trip.
  • As much as possible, limit close contact with the driver. It may not be possible to stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) away from the driver at all times. Ask the driver to wear a mask covering their nose and mouth and to practice proper hand hygiene immediately before and after providing assistance.

Improve ventilation.

  • Ask the driver to improve the ventilation in the vehicle if possible, such as opening the windows or setting the air ventilation/air conditioning on non-recirculation mode.

Avoid touching surfaces.

  • Avoid contact with surfaces frequently touched by passengers or drivers, such as the door frame and handles, windows, and other vehicle parts.  In circumstances where such contact is unavoidable, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol as soon as possible afterwards.

Practice hand hygiene.

  • After leaving the vehicle, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • When you arrive at your destination, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
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Personal bikes, walking, wheelchair rolling, or moving with mobility assistive devices

Follow the general principles listed above, plus the following:

Practice physical distancing.

  • Follow physical distancing guidelines by staying at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from other cyclists or pedestrians who are not from your household. For example:
    • Avoid crowded and/or narrow routes where it might be difficult to maintain 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) of distance between yourself and other cyclists or pedestrians.
    • If you see someone moving towards you, stay as far to your right if possible or safely cross the street to avoid passing within 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) of another person.
    • When passing others, leave as much space as possible.

Wear masks.

  • Wear a mask covering your nose and mouth at all times in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household.
  • Even if you do not expect to have close contact (within 6 feet or about 2 arm lengths) with other people during your trip, carry a mask so you are prepared.
  • If you are able to wear a mask during vigorous biking or other activities, remove your mask if it gets moist from sweat and replace it with a clean mask. If you need to remove your mask to breathe sufficiently, and whenever breathing heavily, it is especially important to maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from others.

Avoid touching surfaces.

  • Limit touching surfaces that are frequently touched by other people, such as pedestrian or cyclist call buttons, as much as possible. If you must touch these surfaces, as soon as you can, wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

Practice hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.

  • After completing your trip, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid spitting or clearing nasal passages in public.
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People with transportation-related jobs

If transportation is part of your job, see these additional resources on how to protect yourself from COVID-19 at work.