US to Extend Public Transport Mask Mandate Until January 18
The White House said Tuesday that they will extend the mask mandate for public transport. Instead of September 13, the mask requirements will extend until January 18.
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Transportation Security Administration Extends Mask Mandate In Public Transport
A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) spokesperson confirmed the extension. He said that instead of September 13, the mandate will push through until January 18. It aims “to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” he said.
The TSA partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Together, they called up major US airlines Tuesday. They informed them of the planned extension.
The extension reiterates their recognition of the Delta variant’s impact. The deadly COVID-19 variant remains responsible for a majority of new cases. As a result, public transport remains a risk for Americans, especially the unvaccinated.
Extended Mask Mandate
The mandate extension comes as US airlines consider requiring vaccines for their employees. Meanwhile, Canada said it will complete vaccinations for all airline passengers.
Last Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said there are no similar talks. The government has yet to require vaccines for American passengers.
A union of flight attendants, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, welcomed the extension. Union President Sara Nelson said the extension “will help” keep everyone safe.
The current CDC order on mask-wearing remains in effect since Biden took office. It requires the wearing of face masks on nearly all forms of public transportation. Passengers on airplanes, ships, trains, subways, buses, and ride-shares will need masks. The mandate also applies to commuters in transportation hubs like airports or stations.
Friction Among Riding Public
Implementing a mask mandate in public transport didn’t come without problems. Many Americans refused to wear masks, especially onboard US airlines. However, the Federal Aviation Administration instituted a “zero tolerance” enforcement effort. Unruly passengers who refuse to wear masks get booted off the plane. To date, airlines reported more than 2,867 passengers resisting the mandate.
Since the pandemic, the TSA recorded at least 85 assaults on agency officials. In some states, transportation hubs remain the only places requiring masks. After lifting masks for vaccinated Americans, the CDC reversed its policy last July. It asked all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, to continue wearing masks. The mandate applies to about 94% of US counties.
Republicans Still Oppose Public Transport Mask Mandate
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers introduced bills opposing mask mandates in public transport. In addition, other GOP lawmakers want fully vaccinated Americans exempted from the requirements.
However, the CDC insists on the mandate’s effectiveness. Marty Cetron is the CDC official who signed the mask mandate rule. He said that wearing masks while using public transport is effective against COVID-19.
“Masks are really powerful and we should make sure they’re part of our arsenal,” Cetron said. He added that unvaccinated Americans are more vulnerable.
Watch the Reuters video reporting that the US will extend the COVID-19 transport mask mandate through January 18:
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