DALLAS – The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) extends the mask requirement at airports and on commercial aircraft for 15 days.
The TSA extension of the Security Directives and Emergency Amendment comes at the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US federal public health agency, requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs through May 3, 2022.
The CDC continues to track the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variation, particularly the BA.2 subvariant, which now accounts for more than 85% of cases in the United States. The 7-day moving average of COVID-19 instances in the United States has been increasing since early April 2022.
One of the final holdouts for strict pandemic mask requirements has been air travel. According to a study by the Government Accountability Office, the TSA fined 922 people who didn’t wear masks over the last year.
Not out of the Woods yet
According to the TSA, the CDC will analyze the possible impact of the recent increase in COVID-19 cases on severe disease, including hospitalizations, fatalities, and healthcare system capacity, during the 15-day extension period.
Last month, the CEOs of the country’s top airlines petitioned President Biden to let the federal mask regulation at airports and on planes expire in April. The group, led by executives of American Airlines (AA), Delta Air Lines (DL), United Airlines (UA), and several other passenger and cargo carriers, also requested that the government remove a requirement that international visitors provide a negative coronavirus test before entering the country.
The travel and transportation mask mandate dates back to January 2021, when the Biden administration and the CDC issued orders making it obligatory to wear masks on public transportation. US airlines had already been requiring that passengers and crew wear masks since mid-2020.
The transport agency says it will continue to work closely with the CDC and inform the public of any modifications to this requirement.
Featured image: Delta Air Lines