The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will start handing out US$50 fines to people using their facilities who don’t wear face masks. The Port Authority runs three big airports, JFK, Newark Liberty, and LaGuardia Airports. However, the new rule covers all Port Authority facilities, including trains stations, bus terminals, in addition to airport terminals.
Port Authority to start issuing fines to non-mask wearers
Most people using Port Authority facilities have been wearing face masks. However, officials hope a fine will convince the remaining face mask holdouts to toe the line.
The move follows an executive order by the Governors of both New York and New Jersey mandating the wearing of face masks on public transport.
“We have seen a very high percentage of compliance with the mask requirement,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton told New York’s Daily News.
“By making individuals not wearing masks subject to a $50 fine, we are emphasizing the criticality of the mask mandate.”
Mr Cotton added he’d rather see all travelers voluntarily wearing face masks than have Port Authority officers handing out fines.
The only area of airport terminals where the Port Authority does not have jurisdiction is the sterile zone under US Customs and Border Protection control. Officials will begin issuing fines from November 2.
Port Authority decision aligns it with existing airline mask policies
The decision by the Port Authority to crack down on face masks sees it aligning with US airlines. They’ve had a zero-tolerance policy to non-mask wearing on airlines and in airport terminals for some time.
“Face coverings will be required starting in the check-in lobby and across Delta touch points including Delta Sky Clubs, boarding gate areas, jet bridges, and onboard the aircraft for the duration of the flight – except during meal service,” says the Delta Air Lines website.
“The only time face coverings may be removed at the airport or onboard is when the customer is eating or drinking,” says American Airlines, adding passengers must not remove their masks until they leave the arrival airport terminal.
United Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Frontier Airlines all have similarly stringent face mask policies.
The decision by the Port Authority to start issuing fines for non-compliance is an example of some much-needed co-operation between the government and the airline industry to help combat the spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 sees passenger traffic at New York’s airports crash
Meanwhile, recent statistics released by the Port Authority reveals the impact COVID-19 is having on its airports. Passenger traffic through its three airports was down 84% over the last three months compared to the same time last year.
In July, 1,720,868 passengers moved through the Port Authority’s three airports, down 87% from the previous July. In August, 2,137,361 went through the airports, down 84% on the previous August. Across September, 2,079,075 passed through the three airports, a decline of 82% on the previous September. So far in October, passenger numbers are down about 77% from last October.
The last three months follow an equally bad decline in passenger numbers over the second quarter of 2020. To date, the reduction in passenger numbers through Port Authority airports has caused a $1.2 billion drop in Port Authority revenues.
What’s your view on this? Are you a regular user of New York’s airports? Should the Port Authority be issuing fines for not wearing masks in airport terminals and elsewhere? Post a comment and let us know.