Masks still needed on planes, public transit even after new CDC guidelines, feds say

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday said fully vaccinated people could shed masks in most settings.

Travelers, even those who are fully vaccinated, are still required to wear masks, officials said Friday.

Those on airplanes, bus, rail travel and other forms of public transportation will still need to adhere to a federal mask rule when traveling into, within or out of the U.S., according to a joint statement issued Friday by the Transportation Security Administration, Federal Aviation Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The mask rules were implemented soon after the coronavirus took hold in the U.S. It was not clear when the restriction will be lifted. 

On Thursday, the CDC said those who are fully vaccinated will no longer need to wear masks while indoors or outdoors, or physically distance in either large or small gatherings. They are still cautioned to wear masks while in crowds and certain indoor settings such as prisons, hospitals and homeless shelters. 

"CDC guidance is clear that fully vaccinated people are safe to travel and can resume travel," the Friday statement said. 

"We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced during a White House COVID-19 briefing. "Based on the continuing downward trajectory of cases, the scientific data on the performance of our vaccines and our understanding of how the virus spreads, that moment has come for those who are fully vaccinated."


The travel rules come as more Americans continue to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. Over the past year, airlines have banned some travelers over their refusal to wear a mask while aboard airplanes.