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Newswest 9 | Midland, Texas | newswest9.com

What a federal mask mandate means for you

The mandate changes little for the city and county, but impacts travel quite a bit.

SAN ANTONIO — President Joe Biden took swift action against the coronavirus pandemic on his first full day in office. He plans to tackle the virus that is raging across the nation head on, starting with an executive order of a mask mandate.

The federal mask mandate doesn't apply to all Americans, but President Biden hopes by doing this – along with a 100 day challenge for everyone to wear a mask – that the spread of the virus can be slowed immensely.

"As part of the 10 executive orders on tap for today those mask requirements will be extended to planes trains and other forms of public transportation," President Biden said from the Oval Office.

The order will require people to wear masks in airports, on certain modes of public transportation, including many trains, airplanes and intercity buses, federal buildings on federal lands and to federal employees and contractors. 

"I thought with the state of the nation today there's no time to waste get to work immediately," President Biden said.

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee for Transportation Secretary agreed fully.

"We must ensure all of our transportation systems – from aviation to public transit, to our railways, roads, ports, waterways and pipelines – are managed safely during this critical period, as we work to defeat the virus," he said.

Crystal Reyes is a travel agent for Joint Base San Antonio. She says the order won't change much about flying because wearing masks is already done, but it'll help in another way.

"I think it will be more of a headache for people that are noncompliant who don't want to comply I think that's going to be the biggest issue," she said. "I think the mandate is going to be more helpful for gate agents and airline representatives – people like that who are having to do the enforcing generally on a daily basis."

The order really doesn't change much of anything for the city and county. VIA transit already requires masks and county buildings like the courthouse downtown require them too, along with temperature checks.