Transportation

Federal mask mandate for travel extended to September

The federal mask mandate for all transportation networks will be extended through September, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced Friday.

The mask requirement is for travel on airplanes, in airports, on buses and on rail systems. It went into effect in February with an expiration date of May 11, which has now been moved to Sept. 13.

President Biden 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.

Since then, more than 100 million Americans have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and case numbers have dropped across the country, though officials have urged individuals to remain vigilant and wear a mask in most indoor settings when around others outside one’s household.

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 get up to $1,500 for repeat offenders.

“The federal mask requirement throughout the transportation system seeks to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” top TSA official Darby LaJoye said in a statement. “We will continue to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to evaluate the need for these directives and recognize the significant level of compliance thus far.”

Earlier this month, the CDC updated its travel guidance to say fully vaccinated people can travel safely within the U.S. Airlines and unions lobbied the TSA to extend the mask mandate past the May expiration date, arguing the safety and health of both workers and passengers are at risk without it.

Tags face mask mandate federal mask mandate Joe Biden mask mandate TSA

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