US to extend wearing masks mandate in public

May 01, 2021

WASHINGTON — The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced Friday that it will extend a federal mandate that requires people to wear masks in transportation settings, including at airports, on commercial aircraft and on commuter bus and rail systems, through Sept. 13. The initial requirement went into effect Feb. 1 and was set to expire May 11.

"The federal mask requirement throughout the transportation system seeks to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation," Darby LaJoye, the senior official performing the duties of the TSA administrator, said in a statement.

"About half of all adults have at least one vaccination shot and masks remain an important tool in defeating this pandemic."

TSA officials said the extension of the facemask requirement is consistent with updated policies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“We will continue to work closely with the CDC to evaluate the need for these directives and recognize the significant level of compliance thus far.”

The CDC recently announced that fully vaccinated travelers with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the US, but the CDC guidelines still require individuals to wear a facemask, socially distance, and wash their hands or use hand sanitizer.

The extension of the facemask requirement is consistent with this most recent CDC guidance.

TSA encourages all commuters, and airline and bus travelers, including people considering international travel, to stay up to date with any changes to these requirements by checking the TSA and CDC website s prior to taking their trip.

While this announcement extends the date of enforcement, all other aspects of the requirement remain unchanged, including exemptions and civil penalties.

Exemptions to the facemask requirement for travelers under the age of two years old and those with certain disabilities will continue.

The existing civil penalty fine structure will also remain in place, which starts at $250 and rises to $1,500 for repeat offenders who violate this facemask requirement.

Travelers who have not flown since last year may notice various changes already implemented at airport screening checkpoints nationwide.

At TSA checkpoints, travelers will continue to see all security screening officers wearing facemasks and gloves.

Acrylic barriers remain in place at most airports while new credential authentication technology and computed tomography equipment at hundreds of checkpoints greatly reduce the need for physical contact between our officers and the traveling public.

The TSA screening officer at the travel document checker (TDC) station will request that travelers temporarily lower their facemask to verify their identity.

Those who approach the TDC without a facemask will be asked to obtain one to proceed. Passengers who refuse to wear a facemask will not be permitted to enter the secure area of the airport, which includes the terminal and gate area.

One hand sanitizer container up to 12 oz. per person continues to be temporarily allowed in carry-on bags while all other liquid, gels, and aerosols must meet the 3-1-1 rule. — Agencies

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