Administration issues coronavirus guidelines for air travel

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The Trump administration on Thursday released guidelines that strongly recommend that airplane passengers wear masks when they fly amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The guidelines were issued jointly by the Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“Airlines and airports are strongly encouraged to require that everyone correctly wear a mask or cloth face covering in shared spaces,” officials said in the guidelines. “Wearing a mask or cloth face covering is particularly necessary any time social distancing cannot be maintained.”

Most of of the country’s large airline companies now require passengers to wear masks while flying and won’t let them board without a mask.

The guidelines noted exceptions to the recommendation such as “children under age 2, or anyone who has a medical condition that causes trouble breathing.”

Officials added: “It is imperative that airlines and airports inform passengers when it may not be possible to meet social distancing expectations and, as a result, emphasize the additional importance of observing all the other preventive measures, including strict hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and wearing a face mask or cloth face covering.”

Some airlines have removed caps on their seating, allowing flights to board at full capacity and making social distancing impossible.

American Airlines just recently lifted their capacity limits, but said that they will alert passengers when a flight is at capacity.

Delta, JetBlue and Southwest, however, have been limiting how many passengers each of their flights have.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian told employees in a memo on Thursday that, “limiting capacity makes a real difference in keeping travelers and our people safe on board – and our customers tell us it gives them peace of mind when they fly.”

Tags American Airlines coronavirus pandemic Delta Department of Health and Human Services Department of Homeland Security Department of Transportation JetBlue Southwest Trump administration U.S. airline industry
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