TSA extends nationwide mask mandate for planes, public transportation until September

Nation/world

The Transportation Security Administration announced Friday that it is extending its face mask requirement across all U.S. transportation settings.

Until at least Sept. 13, individuals will have to continue wearing face coverings at locations including airports, onboard commercial aircraft, on over-the-road buses, and on commuter bus and rail systems, according to the TSA.

The agency’s initial mask rule went into effect Feb. 1 and was set to expire May 11.

While the date of enforcement is extended, all other aspects of the requirement remain unchanged, including exemptions and civil penalties, the TSA said. Exemptions are for travelers under the age of 2 years old and those with certain disabilities. 

Fines for those who violate the face mask requirement start at $250 and go up to $1,500 for repeat offenders.

The mandate across the nationwide transportation system seeks to minimize spread of COVID-19 on public transportation, Darby LaJoye of the TSA said.

“Right now, about half of all adults have at least one vaccination shot and masks remain an important tool in defeating this pandemic,” she added. “We will continue to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to evaluate the need for these directives and recognize the significant level of compliance thus far.”

The extension comes after the CDC announced Tuesday that fully vaccinated Americans don’t have to wear a mask outside, except in crowded places.

The CDC changed its guidelines as more than 55% of the nation’s adult population received at least one dose of vaccine. And as of Friday, the number of adults in the U.S. fully vaccinated against COVID-19 topped 100 million — that’s over 39% of the population.

TSA workers will continue to wear face masks and use gloves, and acrylic barriers will remain in place at airports.

New technology and equipment at hundreds of checkpoints across the U.S. greatly reduce the need for physical contact between officers and travelers, TSA said.

Travelers seeking more information about TSA procedures amid the COVID-19 pandemic can visit tsa.gov/coronavirus.

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