The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will turn away any passengers who try to enter airport terminals, board planes, trains or buses without masks, and those who refuse could face federal fines, the federal authority said Sunday night.
Mask rules on transportation follow the Biden administration’s executive order that face coverings be worn on all federal property.
The new rule will go into effect at midnight Monday night and will remain in effect at least until May 11.
Officials at TSA did not specify how much the fine might be.
But documents obtained by CNN reveal that the airlines and airports will be required to report anyone who refuses to wear a mask and comply with other COVID-19 measures.
Starting February 2, TSA will turn away passengers who refuse to wear masks inn airports, on flights or other forms of transportation under its authority
Passengers who refuse to mask up could face fines and will be reported to federal officials, according to the TSA’s Sunday announcement (pictured)
Coronavirus cases and deaths are finally on the decline in nearly every state in the US.
But the progress is precarious, and the US has already seen how a spike in travel can fuel compounding surges in coronavirus cases after the Thanksgiving holiday’s aftermath brought then-unprecedented rates of more than 200,000 daily infections and, later, more than 3,000 deaths a day.
President Biden signed 17 executive orders on his first day in office, including several at addressing the pandemic, including the mask mandate.
Public health officials have advised against a nationwide mask mandate, but it was a stark contrast to former president Trump’s approach to masking.
Research by airlines and university partners suggests that the risk of coronavirus transmission on a plane, or even on subways and buses, is ‘very low’ – with proper measures in place.
Airports and airlines fall under the Federal Aviation Administration’s authority, meaning they are subject to the same executive order that requires masks in the Oval Office
The high rate of replacement of air on planes helps prevent potentially infectious particles from drifting throughout the aircraft, but it’s likely not enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on its own.
Travel is a fraction of what it was in February of 2019, but nearly six times more people flew on January 31, compared to the low point of travel in the spring.
For the past week, an average of more than 700,000 people passed through TSA checkpoints in the US.
Air travel falls under the Federal Aviation Administration, giving the Biden administration authority over airlines and TSA.
However, most airlines already required all passengers to wear masks during travel, as a matter of their company policies.
Last month, passengers on their way to the Trump rally in Washington, DC, reportedly refused to wear masks, harassed other passengers crew members who, according to a Reuters report.
Enforcement actions were brought against several such passengers.
In addition to re-instating and expanding travel bans lifted by the Trump administration shortly before Inauguration Day, Biden added the mask mandate, which will now have more legal teeth than private companies’ policies.
It also backs up a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order passengers on all modes of public transportation to wear masks during travel, boarding and disembarkation.
‘TSA will fully comply with the President’s Executive Orders, CDC guidance and the DHS National Emergency determination to ensure healthy and secure travel across all transportation sectors,’ said Darby LaJoye, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the TSA Administrator.
‘This will help prevent further spread of COVID-19 and encourage a unified government response.
‘As we continue to experience impacts from this pandemic, we are committed to this measure as the right thing to do for the TSA workforce, for our industry stakeholders and for passengers.’
The directive seen by CNN will also require the ‘full names and contact information’ of all non-compliant passengers or airport-goers to be be submitted to federal officials.
It also directs FSA to make their ‘best efforts to disembark the person who refuses to comply’ with mask mandates.