TSA is debating whether to extend mask mandate on planes, buses and other public transportation before rule ends next month
- An official told CNN that the TSA is consulting experts on whether to extend the federal mask mandate for public transit
- The three-month Biden administration order was issued in February and is set to expire next month
- So far risk of transmission on airplanes and trains has been low when air replacement is high and everyone wears masks
- Airlines support extending the mandate, but it comes as the share of fully vaccinated Americans rises and CDC officials may let masks come off outside
Federal officials are debating whether to extend a mask mandate on airplanes, trains, buses and ferries could be extended, officials told CNN.
The mandate, which applies to all public transportation, is set to expire next month.
An official who spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity said the government is consulting experts about whether to keep the mandate, but refused to predict whether it would be allowed to expire or be extended.
It comes as the CDC considers whether to revise recommendations to say that people can go without masks outside.
And last week, the CDC also published data showing that unblocking middle seat on flights raises Covid transmission risks. Letting people sit in the center seats raised risks that COVID-19 would spread by between 23 and 57 percent, according to its lab studies.
On the other hand, more than half of U.S. adults have now had at least one shot, and the CDC says it is safe for fully vaccinated people to travel.
TSA is consulting experts on whether to extend a federal mask mandate for mass transit that was issued in February and is set to expire next month
Mask-wearing has become nearly ubiquitous and an inextricable part of the ‘new normal.’
But they’re still a fraught subject for many.
Just in the past week, mask protests have broken out in Colorado and California, primarily at schools, where they are still required.
And mask mandates have been lifted in states like Texas and Arizona where the governors each prohibited counties and cities from issuing requirements for face coverings.
Both current president Biden and former president Trump said that they would not issue sweeping federal mask mandates.
But under Biden, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued a federal order applying to mass transit in February.
So far, the real-world risk of coronavirus transmission on air and train travel appears to be low, due in part to the high turnover of air circulation on planes and systems like New York City’s subways.
However, experts also attribute those low case rates to mask-wearing, and travel itself, especially during the holidays and SP.
Americans shave by and large been compliant, but the official told CNN that the TSA has fielded 2,000 reports of alleged refusals to wear masks properly – up from fewer than 1,000 in February.
Interpretations of the mask requirement have varied too.
Earlier this month a family traveling home to New York from Florida made headlines when Spirit staff kicked them off, allegedly because their two-year-old daughter was not wearing her mask while eating yogurt ahead of take-off
Most airlines are still handing out water and minimal in-flight snacks, implying that passengers can take their masks off, at least briefly.
However, earlier this month a family traveling home to New York from Florida made headlines when Spirit staff kicked them off, allegedly because their two-year-old daughter was not wearing her mask while eating yogurt ahead of take-off.
And while airlines have, predictably, opposed travel bans and restrictions, they support maintaining masking.
‘We do think it should maintain the mask mandate,’ Nick Calio, president and CEO of Airlines for America, said at a Senate hearing on Wednesday.
‘It has helped considerably on airplanes and in airports.’
Individual airlines could maintain mask requirements, but these rules might be more difficult to enforce without federal citations at stake.