Interim Guidance: Wearing of face masks while on public conveyances and at stations, ports, and similar transportation hubs


This guidance provides a strong recommendation for wearing of masks by passengers on and operators of conveyances to prevent spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.


The guidance should be followed by passengers on public conveyances (e.g., airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, ride-shares) as well as operators of those conveyances (i.e., crew, drivers, conductors, and other workers involved in the operation of conveyances).

Background on Masks:

Face masks help prevent people who have COVID-19, including those who are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic, from spreading the virus to others. Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings. Wide use of masks especially helps protect those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 as well as workers who frequently come into close contact with other people (e.g., in airports, seaports or other docks, bus terminals, and train stations). Using masks along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, is one of the most effective strategies available for reducing COVID-19 transmission.

Justification for Mask Requirement on Conveyances and Transportation Hubs:

Traveling on public conveyances increases a person’s risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 by bringing persons in close contact with others, often for prolonged periods, and exposing them to frequently touched surfaces. Air travel often requires spending time in security lines and busy airport terminals. Travel by bus, train, and other conveyances used for international, interstate, or intrastate transportation poses similar challenges. Social distancing may be difficult if not impossible on buses and flights.  People may not be able to distance themselves by the recommendation to be at least 6 feet from individuals seated nearby or those standing in or passing through the aisles on airplanes, trains, or buses.

Furthermore, intrastate transmission of the virus has led to—and continues to lead to—interstate and international spread of the virus.  Given how interconnected most transportation systems are across the nation and the world, local transmission can grow quickly into interstate and international transmission when infected persons travel on public conveyances without wearing a mask and with others who are not wearing masks.

Importance of Responsible Travel:

America’s transportation systems are essential. Not only are they essential for public health, they are also vital for America’s economy and other bedrocks of American life.  Those transportation systems carry life-saving medical supplies and medical providers into and across the nation to our hospitals, nursing homes, and physicians’ offices.  Trains, planes, and ships bring food and other essentials to our communities and to our homes.  Buses bring America’s children and teachers to school.  Buses and trains bring America’s workforce to their jobs.

Appropriately worn masks reduce the spread of COVID-19—particularly given the evidence of pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. Many countries, states, territories, tribes, and local authorities have implemented mask requirements within their jurisdictional boundaries, including on public conveyances and associated boarding terminals, to protect public health and reduce the spread of COVID-19 within and between communities. Transportation partners, including airlines, train and bus operators, and taxi and ride-share companies, have also issued mask requirements on their conveyances.

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. Therefore, CDC is providing this guidance to further support state and local health authorities, transportation partners, and conveyance operators who have implemented requirements for masks to support passenger and crew safety, maintain safe and operational transportation systems, mitigate further introduction and spread of COVID-19, and help safely re-open America’s economy.

CDC’s Mask Recommendation:

CDC strongly recommends appropriate masks be worn by all passengers and by all personnel operating the conveyance while on public conveyances (e.g., airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, ride-shares) and within locations where people board such conveyances (e.g. airports, bus or ferry terminals, train stations, seaports).

  • People should wear masks that cover both the mouth and nose when waiting or, traveling on, or departing from public conveyances. People should also wear masks at an airport, bus or ferry terminal, train or subway station, seaport, or similar area that provides transportation.
  • People should wear masks when traveling into, within, or out of the United States on conveyances.
  • Conveyance operators transporting people should refuse boarding to anyone not wearing a mask and require all people onboard, whether passengers or employees, to wear masks for the duration of travel except in the following circumstances:
    • for brief periods while eating, drinking, or taking medication;
    • if unconscious, incapacitated, unable to be awakened, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance; and
    • when necessary to temporarily remove the mask to verify one’s identity such as during Transportation Security Administration screening or when asked to do so by the ticket or gate agent or any law enforcement official

Conveyance operators should ensure that any person on the conveyance wears a mask when boarding, disembarking, and for the duration of travel. Depending on the circumstances, conveyances operators should take the following actions:

  • provide information to people purchasing tickets or otherwise booking transportation (in advance or on the day of departure) on the need to wear a mask on the conveyance and that failure to comply will result in denial of boarding. Operators should provide this information again at the time of boarding;
  • board only those people who wear appropriate masks;
  • monitor the conveyance for any person who does not wear a mask and seek compliance from such person; and
  • at the earliest opportunity, disembark any person who refuses to comply;
  • if possible, have masks available for those passengers who do not have a mask.

Mask use may be exempted for the following categories of people:

  • a child under the age of 2 (masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2);
  • a person with written instructions from a licensed medical provider to not wear a mask;
  • a person with a disability, mental health condition, or sensory sensitivity that prevents that person from wearing a mask;
  • a person who is hearing impaired, or communicating with someone who is hearing impaired, when the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication;
  • 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; or
  • a person operating or essential to operating a conveyance for whom wearing a mask would interfere with that person’s ability to safely operate the conveyance.