The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced new order that requires every traveler using public transportation to wear a mask.
The new safety measures announced on Friday come as health experts warn of a highly contagious coronavirus variant spreading throughout the US.
A required mask would extend to anyone traveling on a public bus, train, taxi, airplane, boat, subway, or ride-share vehicle within and out of the US, CNN reported.
The order goes into effect at 11:59 P.M Monday.
Masks most completely cover a person's nose and mouth and must be worn while waiting, boarding, traveling and disembarking, the agency said. The coverings need to be at least two or more layers of breathable fabric secured to the head with ties, ear loops or elastic bands. Face shields, scarves and bandanas do not count, the order says.
Children under 2 years old and individuals who can’t wear a mask due to a disability are exempt from the new mandate, reported Politico.
The CDC said that while it reserves the right to enforce the order through criminal penalties, it "strongly encourages and anticipates widespread voluntary compliance." The agency also expects support from other federal agencies to implement the order.
"Requiring masks on our transportation systems will protect Americans and provide confidence that we can once again travel safely even during this pandemic," the report stated. "Therefore, requiring masks will help us control this pandemic and aid in reopening America's economy."
In January, the country saw the deadliest month since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Friday, two cases of a coronavirus variant first discovered in South Africa was detected in the South Carolina for the first time.
Two other strains have been confirmed in the United States.
As of Friday morning, the variant first identified in the U.K. has been detected in 28 states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The variant first discovered in Brazil was detected in one case in Minnesota earlier in the week.