TSA extending mask mandate for domestic travel through March

Associated Press/David Zalubowski

The Biden administration will extend the requirement that passengers on domestic flights, trains and public transportation wear face masks through mid-March amid concerns about the new omicron coronavirus variant.

President Biden will announce the policy on Thursday as part of a broader effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic during the winter months.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) plans to extend the mask requirement through at least March 18, according to a White House fact sheet. The TSA last extended the mask mandate in August through January 2022.

Under the rules, individuals who do not comply with the mandate will face a minimum fine of $500 with repeat offenders facing fines as high as $3,000.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends people wear face masks in areas of high transmission of the coronavirus. Public health officials have urged mask use, particularly in crowded indoor settings, especially in light of the new omicron variant.

The administration has not instituted testing or COVID-19 vaccine requirements for domestic travel, as it has for international flights, though officials have indicated such requirements are not off the table.

As part of Biden’s announcement on Thursday, the administration is also implementing stricter requirements for pre-travel testing for international travelers.

Under the new rules, international travelers coming into the U.S. will need to present a negative COVID-19 test within one day of the flight regardless of vaccination status or nationality, rather than the current policy of three days. 

Tags Joe Biden

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