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Buttigieg: Mask mandates on planes a ‘matter of respect’

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday defended mask mandates on airplanes and other public transportation as a “matter of respect,” despite Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that suggest fully vaccinated people can go without face coverings in a host of public areas both inside and outside.

Host Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week” asked Buttigieg about Transportation Security Administration requirements that travelers wear masks on planes even though some health experts say it’s no different than vaccinated people not having to wear face coverings at a restaurant, gym or other type of business. 

“Well, some of the differences have to do with the physical space. Some of them have to do with it being a workplace where in some of these transit and travel situations people don’t have a choice,” Buttigieg said, adding that such decisions would continue to be guided by public health experts.

“It’s a matter of safety, but it’s also a matter of respect,” he said. 

Raddatz also asked about reports of an uptick in unruly passengers who are bucking mask mandates on planes, drinking excessively, and physically or verbally assaulting transportation workers, including flight attendants and flight crews.

Buttigieg urged the public to be civil when dealing with transportation workers who have been on the front lines of the pandemic for more than one year.

“Remember what they have been through, what they have been doing to keep you safe, and make sure to show some appreciation and respect to everybody from a bus driver, operator to a flight attendant to a captain,” he said. They have been on the front lines of this pandemic. Their jobs have been in doubt. They are here for your safety.”

Buttigieg also said that while travel has ramped up during the holiday weekend, the transportation system still has a way to go before reaching pre-pandemic levels.

“As people return, we are coming out of one of the biggest shocks — perhaps the biggest shock — that the American transportation system has ever seen in terms of demands, schedules, all of these things changing, and so the system is getting back into gear,” he said.

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