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The Biden administration has instituted a mask mandate ostensibly on all public transportation effective this past Monday and is now reportedly mobilizing “a vast network of law enforcement officials” to enforce this new mandate and the attached penalties.
Published by President Joe Biden’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last Friday, the rule requires that anyone traveling on an “aircraft, train, road vehicle,” etc., or through an “airport, bus terminal, marina, seaport or other port, subway station, terminal, … train station, U.S. port of entry,” etc., wears a face mask.
And not just any face mask, but one approved by Uncle Sam. And it can’t just be haphazardly placed on one’s face. It must “fit snugly.”
“A properly worn mask completely covers the nose and mouth of the wearer. A mask should be secured to the head, including with ties or ear loops. A mask should fit snugly but comfortable against the side of the face,” the rule reads.
“Masks do not include face shields. Masks can either be manufactured or homemade and should be a solid piece of material without slits, exhalation valves, or punctures. Medical masks and N-95 respirators fulfill the requirements of this Order.”
Despite being framed as a public transportation order, the rule also forces Americans to don a mask when ridesharing through a private app like Uber or Lyft. The rule further grants law enforcement authorities of all stripes — essentially anyone with a badge — permission to enforce these stipulations.
“To address the COVID-19 public health threat to transportation security, this Order shall be enforced by the Transportation Security Administration. … This Order shall be further enforced by other federal authorities and may be enforced by cooperating state and local authorities,” it states.
As for the type of enforcement, the rule says only that the “CDC reserves the right to enforce [it] through criminal penalties” but that the CDC currently “anticipates voluntary compliance.”
However, the rule does encourage other authorities “to implement additional measures enforcing the provision of the Order.”
View the order below:
As of Wednesday, the rule was fully active throughout the country, including in Cedar Rapids, where transit manager Brad DeBrower told local station KCRG that violators of the rule will be banned from riding the city’s transit system.
“The civil penalty for us could be we can ban people from riding. We can say, if you don’t want to comply with our rules and you’re a repeat offender, we don’t have to allow you to ride our service,” he said.
The same is true of passengers who pass through Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley International Airport.
“If a traveler does not have a mask … airport employees ask the person to wear one and have a supply of masks to give to the person. If the traveler does not comply, they will be escorted out of the airport. … The airport has its own police department to assist with that effort,” The Express-Times reported.
According to Reason magazine, the Biden administration’s order opens the door for abuses of power and violations of civil rights.
“Creating a vast network of law enforcement officials empowered to enforce these mask rules will of course provide a handy new excuse for monitoring and surveilling citizens. Meanwhile, deputizing federal agents, state authorities, and local cops to enforce transit mask rules will open up all sorts of new police harassment and abuse opportunities,” the magazine noted.
The only saving grace is that the rule provides exemptions for, as an example, “eating, drinking, or taking medications, for brief periods.”
But even this exemption is fraught with problems. Who defines “brief periods?” The lack of a clear definition opens the door for “misinterpretation in whether someone is allowed to have a mask on or off at a given moment,” according to Reason.
The same holds true of the provisions concerning the type of mask that can be worn.
“The CDC order also says it’s not enough to simply wear a mask—it has to be a certain kind of mask. It can’t be a bandana, scarf, ski mask, or balaclava. It can’t fit too loosely or too tightly. It can’t contain an exhalation valve or be made from knitted fabrics, leather, plastic, or vinyl. Again, that leaves a lot of room for authorities to choose who they target for enforcement,” Reason noted.
The implementation of this rule comes amid an outcry over the Biden administration’s push for a new domestic war on terror that some have argued also poses grave risks to the American people’s civil liberties.
Note, for instance, the criticism below from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald:
From the Cold War to the War on Terror: the harms from authoritarian “solutions” are often greater than the threats they are ostensibly designed to combat.
One need not engage in denialism or minimization of a threat to rationally resist fear-driven fanaticism.
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 7, 2021
His words about “fear-driven fanaticism” driving “authoritarian ‘solutions'” as it pertains to the Biden administration’s emerging war on terror seems to also fit the Biden administration’s new mask mandate to a T.
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