Everything You Need to Know About Joe Biden’s Mask Mandate

A pair of executive orders made it illegal to go maskless in a lot of new places.

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Airport travelers wear face masks

In his brief time in office, Joe Biden has signed two executive orders mandating that people wear masks. While the executive orders aren’t extended to the whole country, they do count as far more action than President Trump did. They cover pretty much everywhere the Joe Biden is allowed to mandate that people wear masks legally and remains a stark contrast to President Trump’s decision to leave such decisions up to other people.

What Are Joe Biden’s Mask Executive Orders?

Biden’s orders require people to wear masks in two places. The first order requires citizens to wear masks during any form of domestic interstate travel. The second executive order requires that people wear masks on federal lands.

President Biden can’t just force say, the governor of Florida to issue or enforce a mask mandate. But he can make traveling, visiting national parks, and post office trips, among other activities, safer by ensuring that people are wearing masks while doing them.

Under the terms of the travel order, people are required to wear masks at airports and on commercial aircraft, trains, public maritime vessels (including ferries), intercity bus services, and all other forms of public transportation defined as “regular, continuing shared-ride surface transportation services that are open to the general public or open to a segment of the general public defined by age, disability, or low income,” with a few exceptions.

The news is particularly welcome to flight attendants who have uniquely borne the brunt of irate passengers refusing to wear masks in an enclosed, inescapable space. The problem was so widespread that cell phone videos of passengers screaming at flight attendants as they were escorted off of planes became their own subgenre of viral video this summer and airlines continued to ask the former administration to do something about mask mandates on planes.

“What a difference leadership makes! We welcome President Biden’s nationwide approach to crushing the virus and lifting us out of this pandemic,” said Sara Nelson, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA International President, in a statement.

Biden’s other order mandates mask-wearing, physical distancing, and other public health measures per CDC guidelines on all 640 million acres of federal land, which covers about 28 percent of the country. Federal courthouses, national parks and monuments, and post offices all fall under this purview. That’s great news for the federal employees who work there and good news for those of us who visit on occasion. Here’s hoping that Biden’s more aggressive stance toward COVID-19 continues and that these mandates are just the beginning.

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