Public Transportation Mask Mandate Extended Until May 3, 2022
With COVID-19 cases dropping in some states and rising in others, many were expecting the TSA to drop the public transportation mask requirement which was set to expire on April 18. However, subvariant BA.2 has thrown a wrench into their plans and so today they announced a 15 day extension. It’s beginning to feel like waiting and watching for “Groundhog Day”, will the groundhog see his shadow and is he wearing a mask?
Of course numbers indicate summer travel is ramping up and more travelers will be boarding trains, airplanes and buses, and those travelers are wondering what the requirements will be. Pilots, flight attendants and airport security are all holding their breath, some hoping the mask mandate will end sooner than later.
In late February, professional trade organizations sent a letter to the Biden administration asking for an end to the mask mandate. “As leading U.S. travel and business organizations, we respectfully urge the Administration to chart a clear course for replacing pandemic-era travel advisories, requirements and restrictions with endemic focused policies of a ‘new normal’ that enable travel to resume fully, freely and safely,” the letter said.
“With declining hospitalization rates, increased immunity, widely available vaccines and cutting-edge treatments on the horizon, America is reaching an inflection point where endemic-focused policies can replace pandemic-driven restrictions,” said the letter. The letter was signed by Airlines for America, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Travel Association.
Official Announcement From TSA
TSA has extended the Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs for 15 days through May 3, 2022.
CDC continues to monitor the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, especially the BA.2 subvariant that now makes up more than 85% of U.S. cases. Since early April 2022, there have been increases in the 7-day moving average of COVID-19 cases in the United States.
During the 15-day extension period, CDC will assess the potential impact the recent rise of COVID-19 cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations, deaths, and healthcare system capacity. TSA will continue to coordinate closely with CDC and communicate any changes to this requirement with the public.
So for now, the federal regulation remains in place requiring anyone 2 years and older to wear a mask on public transportation and in airports, bus hubs, train depots, etc. Failure or refusal to comply with wearing a mask on public transportation and inside transportation hubs can result in up to $3,000 in fines and other penalties.