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Federal mask requirement starts Monday

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Posted at 8:30 PM, Feb 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-01 23:56:55-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A new federal mandate for wearing masks on public transportation goes into effect Monday night.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it's "implementing provisions of President Biden's Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel and will require the wearing of masks by all travelers into, within, or out of the United States, e.g., on airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares."

The CDC says the mask requirement also applies to travelers in the U.S. at transportation hubs.

According to the 11-page order, the new requirements will not apply to children under two and a person with a disability who cannot wear a mask. The guidance outlines several other situations that would exempt people from the requirement.

"Essentially, we've already been under this order with the county since last spring as mandated for transportation services," said Sean Loofbourrow, Chief of Safety and Security at the North County Transit District. "Employees and customers already wear masks."

While the federal government may be kicking down new rules, in California, face masks have already been part of the daily routine.

Shortly after the initial stay home order, the County of San Diego issued local guidance.

Then in June, California released its own set of rules requiring face coverings while "Waiting for or riding on public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle."

"We're seeing over 99 percent compliance across all of our modes," Loofbourrow said.

With the federal mandate, ABC 10News asked the CDC who handles enforcement. As of this writing, the agency has not yet responded.

Locally, each agency ABC 10News spoke with said it's handling its own enforcement.

A spokesperson for the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System says they focus on education, and if someone needs a mask, they've got extras to spare.

A spokesperson for Amtrack says, "Per federal mandate and Amtrak policy, all customers and employees must wear a face mask or covering that fully covers the entire mouth and nose while onboard and in stations."

Officials with the San Diego International Airport said their primary goal is to ensure the health and safety of the traveling public.

A spokesperson wrote, "To that end, our focus remains on mask education to ensure compliance. However, if someone refuses to comply, the Airport Authority is required to remove them in accordance with federal mandate. Law enforcement would be engaged, as necessary, to remove individuals who do not comply with the mandate."