Federal mask mandate in effect, what it means for you

One of President Joe Biden's campaign promises was to mandate masks on federal property and forms of transportation. That promise goes into effect overnight into Tuesday, but since there are already local mask ordinances within most states, what will really change?

If you’re already wearing a mask, you probably won’t notice any differences. But if you don’t, getting past security in an airport checkpoint won’t happen.

In Arizona, one of the biggest changes will be at the security checkpoints at airports like Sky Harbor International Airport.

"This is not about strong-arming people or trying to force people to do something. This is really everyone working together to help secure the transportation system," says Patricia Mancha with Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The new federal mask mandate by the president and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will mean TSA agents require travelers wear masks before they can get through the checkpoint.

"People say, 'What’s the issue? What’s changed?' Anyone who does not wear a mask at the airport security checkpoint will not be allowed to continue on their journey," Mancha explained.

Passengers can face fines but the Mancha stressed that’s only in elevated, belligerent cases.

Sky Harbor already required masks so travelers didn’t seem to mind.

Raymond Castillo says it's a good safety measure. While Brian Hunt says, "Yeah that makes sense. I’m not a huge believer in all the frenzy about it, you know. I think it’s a courteous thing to do."

The mandate also impacts public transportation like the Valley Metro.

"Our riders have been awesome in terms of wearing their face coverings when necessary," says Brittany Hoffman with Valley Metro.

Valley Metro also required face masks already because of local ordinances.

"The federal government is just strengthening our messaging in terms of wearing a face covering when in transit," Hoffman said. The CDC puts the responsibility on drivers and conductors to not allow people on board without masks.

The rule applies to all federal property.

On Monday, the USPS told FOX 10 they’re still reviewing the guidance to see how it affects customers.

Masks are required even if you’re wearing a face shield. Anyone is welcome to also wear a face shield, but they must have a mask as well, Mancha said.

In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Monitor your health daily