The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) yesterday shared that it is extending its requirement for travelers to wear face masks across its United States network until September 13th. As a result, passengers must wear masks on commercial aircraft, and across the group’s network of airports, buses, and rail systems.
A national requirement
US president Joe Biden signed an executive order on January 20th, making it mandatory to wear face masks while traveling interstate on public transportation by air, land or sea.
TSA then shared that it would issue fines for those that don’t adopt masks at airport security checkpoints and throughout its network. It began to suggest fines from $250 for the first offense, and after that, repeat offenders would have to pay up to $1,500. These fines are set to continue under the extension.
Darby LaJoye, the senior official performing the duties of the TSA administrator spoke about this week’s update. Ultimately, officials state that in the present climate, masks and vaccines will go hand in hand in the fight against coronavirus.
“The federal mask requirement throughout the transportation system seeks to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” LaJoye shared in a statement.
“Right now, about half of all adults have at least one vaccination shot and masks remain an important tool in defeating this pandemic. We will continue to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to evaluate the need for these directives and recognize the significant level of compliance thus far.”
Across the industry
Mask wearing has been a policy for major airlines across the US since the rise of the pandemic. However, there wasn’t an official government mandate until the turn of this year. There have been several inflight incidents surrounding masks. Flights have been forced to divert and over 2,500 passengers had been banned by airlines due to non-compliance up until January.
Conflict surrounding masks are still ongoing. Just this week, Alaska Airlines banned Senator Lora Reinbold after videos were shown on social media of her disputing with staff about the operator’s mask policy.
Overall, penalties for non-compliance can be heavy. In March, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed a $14,500 civil penalty against a JetBlue passenger for allegedly interfering with crew members who instructed the passenger to adopt a mask and stop consuming alcohol that he carried onto the aircraft.
The challenge continues
Those in the US that are vaccinated are no longer required to to wear masks outside if they’re walking, running, hiking or biking. However, they must still adopt one if attending crowded outdoor events such as parades and sporting events.
New virus cases are relatively low in the US at the moment. However, the pandemic has shown that things can change rapidly, and the situation is still significantly difficult in several areas around the world. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that mask requirements are still in place for public travel.
What are your thoughts about TSA’s mask requirement? Do you feel that this is a good move? Let us know what you think in the comment section.