Mask mandate for planes, public transport extended until April 18

March 10, 2022

Passengers on planes and on public transport must wear face masks at least until April 18, the Transportation Security Administration announced on Thursday.

TSA’s mask mandate, which was imposed to help stop the spread of COVID-19, was set to expire on March 18. The rule went into effect in February 2021 and has been extended twice. People can be fined if they do not wear a mask on planes, trains, buses and ships or at airports, train and bus stations and ports.

“On CDC’s recommendation, TSA will extend the safety guideline for mask use on public transit and transit hubs for one month, through April 18,” a TSA statement said.

“During that time, CDC will work with government agencies to help inform a revised policy framework for when and under what circumstances masks should be mandatory in the public transit corridor. This revised framework will be based on COVID-19 community levels, risk of new variants, national data and the latest science. We will publicly communicate any updates if and/or when they change.”

Many state and local governments are dropping face mask regulations as the Omicron wave subsides. A recent shift in federal COVID guidelines means the vast majority of Americans now live in places where face masks are not required in indoor public areas.

Airlines and lobby groups such as the American Public Transportation Association urged the Biden administration to drop the mandate.

“For the past two years, public transit agencies have supported and enforced federal policies to combat COVID-19,” APTA said in a letter to the White House. “We believe these efforts have played an important role in our country’s collective fight against COVID-19. However, an extension of the mask mandate beyond March 18 is likely to compound the mounting enforcement challenges facing public transit agencies.

The Stewardesses’ Association expected an extension of the mask rule. The union said letting it expire would put some passengers at risk, such as the unvaccinated children under 5, Bloomberg said.

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