Masks On Flights Are Here To Stay
The public health measure of wearing face masks on flights will be around for the foreseeable future, the U.S. Chief Medical Advisor said.
During an interview on ABC’s This Week show, Dr. Anthony Fauci was asked whether there would be a point when travelers wouldn’t be required to wear face coverings on planes.
The interviewer said, “Several CEOs of the top airlines have said that on an airplane you are actually safer than in an ICU – [with] the protection with the filtration system they have – they were suggesting there really wasn’t much need for a mask on an airplane,”
“Are we going to get to the point where we won’t have to wear masks on airplanes?” asked the interviewer.
Dr. Anthony Fauci responded with, “I don’t think so,”
“I think when you’re dealing with a closed space, even though the filtration is good, that you want to go that extra step when you have people… You get a flight from Washington to San Francisco, it’s well over a five-hour flight, even though you have a good filtration system I still believe that masks are a prudent thing to do and we should be doing it,” Dr. Anthony Fauci added.
The Federal Mask Mandate On U.S. Planes
The U.S. first introduced a federal mask date on planes and public transport in February 2021, despite criticism from parts of the U.S. public. The U.S government has extended the mask mandate several times, including from May to September and September to January.
What’s more, the latest extension will see the mask mandate in place until at least March 18, 2022. But the latest statement from Dr. Anthony Fauci suggests the mask mandate could be here for a very long time.
A statement from the White House said, “The Administration will continue to require masking during international or other public travel – as well as in transportation hubs such as airports or indoor bus terminals – through March 18 as we continue to battle Covid-19 this winter,”
The U.S. Government has doubled the fines for noncompliance with a minimum fine of $500 and a maximum fine of up to $3,000 for repeat offenders.
The mask mandate has led to an increase in unruly passenger incidents in the previous year. Reports suggest 75% of unruly passenger incidents between January and June 2021 were mask-related.
Additionally, of the 5,664 reports of bad behavior to the Federal Aviation Administration, 4,072 were related to passengers not wearing masks during the flight.
The Travel Industry’s Response
Southwest Airlines CEO, Gary Kelly, made the news last week when he said “masks don’t add much in a plane.”
Gary Kelly told the US Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing, “I think the case is very strong that masks don’t add much, if anything, in the air cabin environment,”
He further added, “It is very safe, very high quality compared to any other indoor setting.”
When asked if he thought passengers could ever board a flight again without wearing a mask, he said HEPA filters captured 99.97% of airborne pathogens in cabins.
A Southwest Airlines spokesperson said, “Southwest Airlines continues to abide by the federal mask mandate for customers and employees both within the airport environment and onboard all Southwest aircraft.”
However, the boss of the Association of Flight Attendants, Sara Nelson, said “It’s really important that the public hear that everyone is on the same page with this,”
“It makes the job much for difficult for us – the enforcers of the mask mandate,” she added.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com