The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will further extend its current mask-wearing mandate on airplanes and other public transport, until at least April 18.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, as well as airlines and consumers, lobbied the federal government to keep the restriction in place so aircraft personnel had backing when dealing with unruly passengers.
“(Through April 18), CDC will work with government agencies to help inform a revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor,” the CDC said in a statement.
According to the CDC, any future revisions will be based on the epidemiology situation at the community level, as well as the risk posed by new coronavirus strains.
Not everyone in the industry was expecting the rule to be extended beyond March 18.
In a letter dated February 25, Jeffrey Zients, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, was urged to remove the travel mask mandate and withdraw other preventive travel measures.
“With declining hospitalization rates, increased immunity, widely available vaccines and cutting-edge treatments on the horizon, America is reaching an inflection point where endemic-focused policies can replace pandemic-driven restrictions,” said the letter, signed by Airlines for America, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Travel Association.
However, as with other recent guidelines, the agency retained the prospect of phasing out the mandate as soon as science allows it.
Notice that passengers who fail to wear a mask on public transport may face fines ranging from $500 to $1000 (first-time offenders.)
Repeat offenders may have to pay fines from $1000 to $3000.