Biden to extend mask mandate for travelers until January

The Biden administration will extend the federal mask mandate for all transportation networks through January 18.  

“TSA will extend the directives through January 18, 2022. The purpose of TSA’s mask directive is to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) spokesperson told The Hill. 

TSA informed major U.S. airlines of the extension Tuesday, Reuters reported, citing three sources.

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The mask mandate for travel on airplanes, in airports, on buses and on rail systems is currently set to expire on Sept. 13. It initially went into effect with an expiration date of May 11, but the agency first extended it in April.

President BidenJoe BidenNew York woman arrested after allegedly spitting on Jewish children Former Sen. Donnelly confirmed as Vatican ambassador Giuliani associate sentenced to a year in prison in campaign finance case MORE signed an executive order on his first full day in office directing federal agencies to “immediately take action” to mandate the use of masks on trains, intercity buses, ferries and in airports.

The federal rule allows TSA to fine passengers who refuse to wear a mask while traveling. The fine structure will also stay in place through September, which starts at $250 and can rise to $1,500 for repeat offenders.

The new threat of the delta variant of the coronavirus led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last month to update federal guidance, recommending that vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks indoors in certain areas where there is a substantial rise in COVID-19 infections.

The Biden administration has been under pressure from Republicans to end the mask mandate before the current September deadline. In July, Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 I'm furious about Democrats taking the blame — it's time to fight back Rand Paul cancels DirecTV subscription after it drops OAN MORE (R-Ky.) introduced legislation to repeal the mandate and prohibit the federal government from imposing a mandate when using any “conveyance” or “transportation hub.”

In June, other Republicans, led by Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHillicon Valley — Senate panel advances major antitrust bill Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine MORE (Texas), introduced a resolution calling for the CDC to lift the public transportation mask mandate.