As COVID-19 metrics continue on a downward trend across the country, the Centers for Disease Control is making changes to its mask policy and people have been asking where a face covering is still required.
According to the latest CDC guidance, a mask is still required on public transportation, such as Chicago Transit Authority's buses and trains, Metra lines, Amtrak and airplanes.
Ride-share vehicles, including taxis, Ubers and Lyfts, also continue to require masks during travel, and will issue a penalty for customers without a face covering.
As of Feb. 25, the CDC said students are not required to wear masks on buses operated by public and private schools, aligning with updated guidance that lifted a face covering mandate in the classroom.
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
While inside public transportation, as well as transportation hubs, people can take off a mask only amid the following circumstances:
- While eating, drinking or taking medicine for limited periods of time
- While briefly communicating with someone who is hearing impaired
- While using an oxygen mask on a flight
- If unconscious
- To verify identify, such as during a Transportation Security Administration screening
- While experiencing shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Changes are likely coming in the near future, however.
Working with the CDC, the TSA extended its mask requirement on public transportation through April 18. The requirement was originally set to expire March 18 prior to the latest extension.
A day prior to the announcement earlier this month, the TSA assured flyers that it is ready for increased travel volume during spring break, also noting "we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel as demonstrated by the rapid recovery of the travel industry."
According to the TSA, during the one-month extension period, the CDC "will work with government agencies to help inform a revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required..."
The mask requirement has remained in place even after the CDC announced a shift in COVID-19 guidance late last month, saying most Americans are safe without a mask in indoor settings.
In a press release, the agency listed travel tips for the "fastest and most efficient" checkpoint experience, which includes abiding by the mask requirement.