US Federal Mask Mandates on Public Transport Extended

US Federal Mask Mandates on Public Transport Extended

Travellers will have to continue to wear masks when flying commercially and in other transportation hubs, including on buses, ferries and subways.

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will once again extend its face mask requirement however, the agency also stated it is working with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention on a framework moving forward, possibly signalling a future end to the mandate.

The new order extends the requirement through 18 April 18, 2022.

The order has since been extended several times with the most recent extension set to expire on March 18, 2022.

The extension of the mandate comes as airlines are expecting a surge in spring travel. The emergence of the omicron variant just after Thanksgiving dampened demand for flights, but carriers said they expected bookings to rebound.

The extension will apply to all travellers over the age of two, although there are exemptions for those with certain disabilities.

Mask Mandate Criticism

The mandate has drawn criticism from some Republican lawmakers, including Senator Roger Wicker, who has lobbied to end the mask requirement.

Senator Wicker and 30 other senators sent a letter to President Biden urging him to lift pandemic-related travel restrictions.

“I am disappointed President Biden has chosen to extend these mandates yet again,”

“The science does not support this decision.”

Senator Roger Wicker

Rise of Unruly Passengers

Airlines and travel groups have previously called on the administration to “repeal the Federal mask mandate for public transportation or provide a clear roadmap to remove the mask mandate within 90 days.”

The mask requirements have resulted in significant friction on US aeroplanes. The Federal Aviation Administration says since January 2021, there have been a record 6,800 unruly passenger incidents reported — and 70% involved masking rules.

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