CDC issues federal mask mandate “enforceable through criminal penalties” on all public transportation
February 5, 2021

ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) quietly issued a federal mask mandate on all public transportation in the USA. The order, published on January 29, is likely to be the first true legal test for federal mask mandates.

The CDC order states as follows:

Persons must wear masks over the mouth and nose when traveling on conveyances into and within the United States. Persons must also wear masks at transportation hubs as defined in this Order. Conveyance operators must use best efforts to ensure that any person on the conveyance wears a mask when boarding, disembarking, and for the duration of travel.

Legal authority

The agency says it has the authority to issue such an order pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 264, also known as the Public Health Service Act of 1944. One provision of said law states:

Regulations prescribed under this section may provide for the apprehension and examination of any individual reasonably believed to be infected with a communicable disease in a qualifying stage and (A) to be moving or about to move from a State to another State; or (B) to be a probable source of infection to individuals who, while infected with such disease in a qualifying stage, will be moving from a State to another State. 
The CDC has also invoked 42 CFR § 71.31(b) in the Order. It states:

The Director may require detention of a carrier until the completion of the measures outlined in this part that are necessary to prevent the introduction or spread of a communicable disease. The Director may issue a controlled free pratique to the carrier stipulating what measures are to be met, but such issuance does not prevent the periodic boarding of a carrier and the inspection of persons and records to verify that the conditions have been met for granting the pratique.
The Order states that the CDC reserves the right “to enforce through criminal penalties, [but] does not intend to rely primarily on these criminal penalties but instead strongly encourages and anticipates widespread voluntary compliance.” The Order went into effect on February 1.

Is the order legal?

There are several pending and adjudged lawsuits challenging state and municipal-level mask mandates. A federal lawsuit was filed by a Tulsa, Oklahoma optometrist and several other citizens. It challenged the city’s mask mandate. The plaintiffs claimed that masks lower oxygen concentrations to levels that are deemed dangerous by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice via joint stipulation in late January. All parties agreed to pay their own attorney fees. But these types of dismissals typically indicate some type of settlement was negotiated. The case was not dismissed on the merits. Regardless, Tulsa’s mask mandate remains in effect.

A citizen group called Ohio Stands Up! filed a federal lawsuit in September. It seeks to negate Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s health order that was originally issued on March 9, 2020. The lawsuit states in part, “Masks are dangerous, prevent proper breathing, and provide no real protection against this virus, according to multiple studies.”

RELATED: Truth About Masks

The Ohio group continues providing updates about the lawsuit on its website.

Impact of CDC Order

The one glaring issue with the instant CDC order is the safety of operators. The CDC is placing the burden on bus drivers, cab drivers, etc. to enforce this order. There are many stories of store clerks and others trying to enforce mask mandates, only to end up getting assaulted and/or killed.

Contact COVID Legal USA today if you’re facing mandatory vaccines for employment or if you are a public transportation operator concerned with your safety. We’ve helped dozens of American workers represent themselves, and keep their jobs minus mandatory vaccines and other COVID restrictions. One of our legal writers will get back to you within 24 hours.

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