Feb. 2, 2021
Passengers on all forms of public transportation into, within or outside of the U.S., including charter operations and at transportation hubs including FBOs, must now wear face masks, according to a new order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Private conveyances for personal, non-commercial use are exempt from the rule, meaning passengers of private Part 91 operations are not required to comply.
“This CDC order brings the force of a government mandate to business practices already in place around much of the country,” said Brian Koester, CAM, NBAA’s director of flight operations and regulations. “Aircraft operators and FBO managers should review the order with their personnel to ensure compliance. Having a formal mandate from the federal government should assist operators and FBOs in ensuring compliance with appropriate mask practices.”
The order outlines mask attributes that meet the CDC requirements and masks or other devices, such as neck gaiters, which do not meet the CDC requirements. It also lists certain exemptions to the mask requirement, including when a passenger is eating or drinking, communicating with a passenger who is hearing impaired, children under 2 years of age and passenger with a disability who cannot safely wear a mask.
Crew members are exempt when wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty. The FAA interprets this to include pilots or crewmembers seated at their duty station.
Aircraft operators and transportation hub operators are tasked using “best efforts” to ensure compliance with these requirements. Any person not complying with the mandate should be told noncompliance is a violation of federal law, should not be boarded on an aircraft or should be disembarked as soon as possible.
The order comes on the heels of a recent announcement from the FAA, which increased civil penalties for passengers who interfere, physically assault or threaten a flight crewmember.
In January, the CDC published an order requiring pre-departure COVID-19 testing for all passengers arriving to the U.S. from international locations. Passengers must be tested no more than three days prior to their departure and must provide proof of the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the aircraft operator. Crewmembers are exempt from this requirement and may print a letter to use as proof of their exemption when deadheading.