What You Need to Know About President Biden’s Mask Mandate and Air Travel

By Anna Breuer on 24 January 2021
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Masks are in the news this week, to say the very least.

Not only did several European countries ban cloth masks, but President Joseph Biden promulgated a new rule requiring anyone on an airplane, train, bus, or at an airport, as well as employees and visitors on federal property, to wear a face mask.

The rules came in the form of two executive orders: One for lands and buildings controlled by the federal government, and another for public modes of transportation and ports of entry into the United States.

The action came as a relief for airlines, airports, flight attendants, and countless passengers, as they have had to contend with unruly travelers who refused to wear masks in airports and on aircraft, stating that the coronavirus pandemic was a hoax.

A flight attendant who heads the Association of Flight Attendants, a union representing cabin crew at multiple airlines, expressed relief at news of the executive order.

The move will “provide much needed back up for Flight Attendants and aviation workers on the frontlines,“ said Sara Nelson.

President Biden said in the order that it was issued “by relying on the best available data and science-based public health measures,” and the order calls for the secretary of health and human services to work with a goal of “regarding mask-wearing and other public health measures, with the goal of maximizing public compliance.”

To understand the scope of the first order, it will apply to all federal employees and contractors.  It includes the U.S. Capitol, federal courthouses, all post offices, all post office employees on their routes, and federal agencies across the country. It also applies to national parks and federal monuments.

The second will apply to all forms of transportation under federal control and does not allow for any medical exemptions.

While the two orders directed federal agencies to take “immediate action” on implementing the new rules, they did not include specifics on how the orders would be implemented nor what the penalties would be for those violating the orders.  Officials at federal agencies were given one week to update the president’s Covid-19 response coordinator, Jeff Zients, on their progress.

The president’s actions are a sharp contrast to those of the previous administration.  Since the first cases of the coronavirus arrived in the U.S., before the virus even became an epidemic let alone a global pandemic, the previous administration under Donald Trump disregarded basic precautions such as mask-wearing, as did many Republican lawmakers, refusing to wear masks in public and refusing to require those attending events, even at the White House, to don masks.  Most attendees at Trump’s political rallies prior to the November election were maskless.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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