The Transportation Security Administration has investigated more than 3,800 incidents of potential violations involving the federal mask mandate, assessing more than $644,000 in civil penalties, according to a report this week by the Government Accountability Office.
The TSA, who are charged with enforcing the mandate in airports and other public transportation settings, has issued more than 2,700 warning notices, the report said.
It issued civil penalties in about 900 instances, roughly 24 percent of cases that occurred between February 2nd, 2021, and March 7th, 2022. The average civil fine for violators was $699, the report said.
The GAO found the TSA generally did well at coordinating efforts with other agencies to enforce the mask mandate and other coronavirus-related security directives.
“While selected external stakeholders raised several issues with the security directives, they stated that TSA’s expedited coordination was generally effective,” the report said.
As part of the Cares Act, the GAO was tasked with monitoring and oversight of the nation’s response to the pandemic. In addition, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, also requested the GAO review the TSA’s efforts to respond to the pandemic.
The TSA last week announced it was extending a federal mask mandate through April 18 that had been set to expire a month earlier. Since it was put into place last year, the requirement that people wear masks at airports and in public transportation settings has been extended four times.
In September, the TSA announced it was increasing the fines for those who refuse to wear masks from $500 to $1,000 for the first instance, and from $1,000 to $3,000 for repeat offenders.
The mandate has drawn criticism from some Republicans, including Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.), the top Republican on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, who has lobbied to end the mask requirement.
The mandate has also been a divisive issue at airports and on airplanes. This year the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) has received 814 unruly-passenger reports, 535 of which have been mask-related.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: WASHINGTON POST