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The latest general information on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is available on For USDOT specific COVID-19 resources, please visit our page.

Background and Messaging

The U.S. Department of Transportation created Mask Up to educate the public about federal requirements to wear a mask on public transportation. This page contains talking points, FAQs, and additional background information that will be helpful in communicating to the traveling public about the new mask requirement.

Talking Points

Why a new federal law requires masks on public transportation:

  • COVID-19 has hit the United States particularly hard. The U.S. has just 4% of the world’s population— but 25% of the world’s COVID-19 cases and 20% of all COVID-19 deaths. (Source: National Strategy for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness, January 2021)

  • The Biden-Harris Administration  released a national strategy for COVID-19 response in January 2021. One of the key goals is to control virus spread through increased masking and other safety measures.

  • The COVID-19 virus is continually evolving. Travelers from other countries and areas of the U.S. may carry new virus strains. New forms of the virus might be more contagious, cause more severe illness, or be resistant to vaccines.

  • It is impossible to maintain safe social distance in many transportation settings. Close quarters, limited ventilation, and frequently touched surfaces can all increase infection risk. That makes using a mask even more important.

What the law requires:

  • Face masks covering the nose and mouth must be worn on planes, buses, trains, taxis, and all other forms of public transportation.

  • Face masks are required in all transportation hubs, such as bus, subway, and train stations; airports; marinas and seaports; and any other location that provides transportation.

  • Travelers must wear masks for the duration of their travel. This includes when entering a transportation hub, while waiting to board, boarding, traveling, and disembarking.

  • Transportation operators must make best efforts to ensure that passengers wear masks as required.

Why you should wear masks on public transportation:

  • Wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself, your loved ones, and high-risk people in your community.

  • By wearing a mask, you are keeping yourself and others safer, and helping prevent the spread of COVID-19. This will ultimately help our country recover faster from the pandemic.

  • If you don’t use a mask, security personnel or transportation operators may not allow you to board or may require you to leave—it’s a federal law.

Where to get more information:


The U.S. Department of Transportation is regularly answering your questions regarding the federal law requiring masks on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation. Review the FAQ page and make sure to regularly check for updates

Last updated: Thursday, March 18, 2021