Travelers who refuse to wear masks now face up to $1,500 fine

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Passengers wear masks — some with their noses peeking out — on a June 3 flight. Under CDC guidelines, masks must completely cover the wearer’s nose and mouth. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Passengers wear masks — some with their noses peeking out — on a June 3 flight. Under CDC guidelines, masks must completely cover the wearer’s nose and mouth. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Travelers who refuse to wear a mask in airports, bus stations and rail stations, as well as while aboard planes, buses and trains, can face a fine of $250 for the first offense and up to $1,500 for repeat offenses under President Biden’s executive order on COVID-19 safety.

The Transportation Security Administration clarified Friday that its agents will enforce the new fine and that flight attendants, bus operators and other transportation employees have the authority to report violators to the agency. The TSA said its agents have the option of imposing a lower or even higher fine if there are substantial mitigating or aggravating factors.

The fine is the result of an executive order signed by Biden on Jan. 23 to require masks be worn in compliance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Under the guidelines, masks must completely cover the wearer’s nose and mouth, fit snugly against the side of the face and lack any slits, holes or exhalation valves. If they are made of cloth, they must have at least two layers of tightly woven fabric.

Most airlines began to require that passengers wear face coverings starting in May, but the Trump administration refused to adopt a federal regulation that would impose a fine on violators. Instead, airlines enforced the mask policy by banning violators from flying in the future. The nation’s largest carriers have so far banned from flying more than 3,000 passengers who violated the mask policy, according to travel site The Points Guy.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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