Joe Biden implements new mask wearing mandates just days into his term


Photo contributed by Eric Haynes

Throughout Joe Biden’s campaign trail he discussed mask mandates on public transportation, now it’s a reality.

Newly inaugurated president Joe Biden signed executive orders mandating mask-wearing on federal property as well as on all public transportation including busses, trains and planes.

Biden has put a heavy focus on mask-wearing all throughout his nomination process, something that differs from Donald Trump’s presidential term; Trump consistently downplayed the effectiveness of masks, even when he was told by medical officials that they were necessary to eliminate the virus. 

“This mandate has been a long time coming,” Aaron Jaffe ’21 said.  “We have all been wanting to get back into school full time and to be done with the virus; this feels like a step in the right direction.”

At this point in his term, Biden does not seem to have the legal authority to implement a nationwide mask mandate for all public spaces. It is in the hands of local and state authorities to determine those regulations.  

“I wouldn’t be opposed to wearing a mask at all times until COVID-19 is suppressed,” Arden Scherer ’21 said.

Biden’s call for masks on public transportation came in part because of the distress that many airlines and Metro-North employees expressed. Many felt unsafe around customers who weren’t wearing masks.

The president of the Association of Flight Attendants, Sara Nelson, had tried to get the Trump administration to mandate mask requirements in airports last April but was met with a hard no. 

“Earlier this year my family was hesitant to fly because we were worried other people on the flight wouldn’t be wearing masks,” Kevin Lynch ’21 said. 

Putting an action like this into play within Biden’s first days in office is monumental. Biden has on several occasions emphasized how seriously he and his whole administration are taking the pandemic. 

This is just the first of many likely COVID-19 mandates to come out in the coming months.