According to the CDC's guide to masks, "Everyone 2 years or older who is not fully vaccinated should wear a mask in indoor public places." But the same guidance should apply to everyone. Wearing a mask is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others as COVID-19 cases fluctuate, and new variants emerge, across the country.
In the same guide, beyond just bars and restaurants, the CDC offers guidance for those traveling — and, with the holidays near, that'll be a hell of a lot more of us than last year. "Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and train stations. Travelers are not required to wear a mask in outdoor areas of a conveyance (like on open deck areas of a ferry or the uncovered top deck of a bus)," experts there said.
But not all masks are made equal. Ones labeled for surgical use only should be reserved for healthcare workers exclusively. And ones with exhalation valves are not allowed on airlines as they are not CDC-approved. Ones made from vinyl or leather obviously don't work, because they not only block out everything but they make it difficult to breathe.
Your mask should, according to the agency, "have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric, completely cover your nose and mouth, fit snugly against the sides of your face and don’t have gaps and have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask." Masks with contoured nose bridges work well, too, if glasses or facial ailments make it difficult to bend a metal bridge across your nasal bone. Below, you'll find some of our favorite masks — ones that adhere to the CDC's guides but also free up valuable medical-grade masks for front-line workers.
The CDC updates its guidelines and recommendations on masks regularly. To read the latest guidelines, click here.