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VERIFY: What do the Biden administration's two mask mandates cover?

President Joe Biden has signed two mask mandates. One for federal lands and one for interstate travel. We looked into the fine print with an expert.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has wasted no time in beefing up the federal government’s plan to deal with the pandemic. On Thursday, he signed 10 more executive orders related to COVID-19, and added to his day-one federal mask mandate.

The president also challenged all Americans to mask up for the first 100 days.

"One of our 100-day challenges is asking the American people to mask up for the first 100 days, the next 99 days," President Biden said. "The masks have become a partisan issue, unfortunately, but it's a patriotic act." 

On day one he also signed an executive action that requires masks and social distancing on all federal properties. In D.C. federal property makes up a majority of the District. Including the National Mall, parks such as Logan Circle, and federal buildings.

Credit: NCPC

The second mask order pertains to travel. Mask wearing is now required on airplanes, trains, and intercity buses.

That prompted this question from a viewer:


“If I need to wear a mask when traveling between states, does it mean I now must wear one in my car on my drive from D.C. to Pennsylvania?”


No, the mandate does not touch private transportation.

Our Sources:

President Biden’s Executive Orders and Dr. Mark Graber, a Constitutional law professor from the University of Maryland.

What We Found:

 To answer the viewer’s question, no, you don’t have to wear a mask while driving. However, before you laugh at the question, you should understand the two mask mandates.

“I think people thought Biden was going to put it all in one mandate,” Dr. Graber said.

According to Dr. Graber, the first mandate covered mask wearing on all federal lands. That meant federal buildings, properties, and parks.

“Now it looks like there are mask mandates, plural,” he said.  “But by the time it's over, everything covered, will be covered.”

The second mandate dealt with interstate travel. In this, the president did exempt cars. 

There is some discussion in legal circles that he may have had jurisdiction to mandate on interstate highways but chose not to.  However, for planes, trains, and buses -- you will have to wear a mask.

What are the punishments?

“We don't yet know the punishments, I presume it's going to be a fine of some sort,” Dr. Graber said.

The administration is still working that out.

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