U.S. to Extend Federal Mask Mandate for Planes and Trains

By Paul Riegler on 13 April 2022
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An American Airlines Boeing 737-800 taking off

 

The United States will once again extend its mask mandate for all forms of public transportation including airplanes, trains, buses, light rail, subways, and streetcars as well as for airports and rail terminals, a Biden administration official said.

The order has been in place since February 2021 and has been extended multiple times.   It requires “persons to wear masks over the mouth and nose when traveling on any conveyance (e.g., airplanes, trains, subways, buses, taxis, ride-shares, ferries, ships, trolleys, and cable cars) into or within the United States and while in transportation hubs.”

The mask requirement is now in place through at least May 3, 2022.

The Associated Press was the first to report the extension.

The move comes as the 7-day incidence of new coronavirus cases has been slowly increasing.  It will give the CDC additional time to study the highly transmissible BA.2 subvariant of the omicron variant of the virus.

Flight attendant unions had applauded the measure when it was introduced since it protects cabin crew who cannot avoid close contact with passengers, but some in the industry, including a consortium of ten airlines, which includes Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines, have called for the mandate to be lifted.

Prior to the mandate, all U.S. airlines required passengers to don face masks when on board.

Since the mandate came into force, there have been almost 750 reports of “unruly” passengers who turned disruptive or violent while flouting the mask rule since the start of the current year.  In 2021, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration saw almost 5,000 such reports.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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