DHS to increase fines for mask violations in airports, on planes

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The Department of Homeland Security announced on Thursday that those who refuse or fail to wear a mask in airports, planes or certain other public transportation modes will be subject to higher fines.

Though fines previously started at $250 and ranged upward, the new fines, which will become effective on Friday, would start at $500. DHS said that first-time offenders could see a fine of between $500 and $1,000. Second-time offenders could be fined between $1,000 and $3,000.

Additionally, the department said that the federal mask mandate would remain effective until Jan. 18. It is a part of President Biden’s larger COVID-19 action plan, which was implemented to combat further spread of COVID-19 and avoid possible shutdowns that were experienced last year.

“If you break the rules, be prepared to pay. And by the way, show some respect,” Biden said in remarks on Thursday.

“The anger you see on television toward flight attendants and others doing their job is wrong, it’s ugly,” he added.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reported a number of instances where passengers have disregarded mask mandates, sometimes at the detriment of crew staff and passengers as employees try to handle unruly passengers.

One unruly passenger was fined $29,000 after she refused to wear a facial covering and shouted at the aircraft crew. The FAA also reported that the passenger punched a passenger in the face after the person raised complaints about being bumped by the unruly passenger.

The DHS noted that the fines levied by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are separate from ones that are doled out by the FAA over unruly passenger behavior.

“We appreciate the majority of travelers each day who voluntarily follow the requirement, but find this action necessary to maximize the protections for those who use and work within the transportation system, and to contain COVID-19,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement Thursday.

“By doubling the range of penalties, we seek to reinforce the importance of voluntary adherence,” he added.

Tags COVID-19 DHS FAA Joe Biden Joe Biden TSA
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