The mask mandate imposed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is being extended through April 18 on public transportation as well as in transportation hubs and was previously expected to expire on March 18.
The extension comes on a recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as announced by TSA on Thursday.
The agency said the CDC will be working on a “revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor.”
As with changing guidance with masks in other settings, the CDC noted that any revision will come based on the levels of coronavirus risk at the community level in addition to the risk of the emergence of new variants and national data.
TSA did, though, leave room for an earlier termination of the masking policy if the science seems to support that. The extension was announced just two weeks following the CDC relaxing its general mask guidance for communities where hospitals are not particularly strained and as states around the nation, spanning the political spectrum, have also relaxed several precautionary measures.
As guidelines have been changing due to hospitalization rates and local pandemic requirements, many travel industry stakeholders were hopeful the mask mandate would expire on the original date.
In a letter signed by Airlines for America, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the U.S. Travel Association to Jeffrey Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, the group wrote, “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.”
ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE VERGE