The CEO of Southwest Airlines has claimed that there is no push amongst those in the industry to extend the mask mandate once it expires in just a few weeks. Whilst other mask mandates in everyday life seem to be being phased out, the wearing of face masks onboard aircraft is still very much a live policy.
As the number of people traveling continues to rise – and wish case numbers going up once more – here’s a look at the mask mandate as it currently is for airline passengers, plus a look at whether or not the rule is likely to be extended in the coming weeks.
Current Mask Mandate – Information For Travelers
Those who have been on a flight since the dawn of the pandemic will be all too familiar with the mask mandate and all the other Covid-19 related in-flight restrictions. Flying now compared to flying in the years before the pandemic is almost unrecognizable. Mandated by the TSA, masks now have to be worn across all transportation networks throughout the US, including at airports, on board commercial aircraft, on busses and on commuter bus and rail systems until September 13th.
There are some exemptions to the mask requirements. For example, travelers under the age of 2 do not need to wear a face mask, nor do those with certain disabilities who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, because of the disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, those who do not cooperate with the requirement will be liable for fines of up to $1,500 for repeat offenders. However, with the mask requirements’ expiry date of September 13th drawing ever closer, we could be about the see end of it.
No Push For Mandate Extension – What Travelers Should Know
For travelers who are not fans of the mandatory wearing of facemasks onboard aircraft, some good news was delivered this week courtesy of Southwest Airlines CEO and chairman of industry lobbying group Airlines for America (A4A) Gary Kelly. Speaking on Thursday, Kelly said that both his airline and the trade group were not advocating for an extension of the federal transportation mask mandate when it expires in September, meaning the mandatory wearing of masks on board a flight may soon be a thing of the past.
However, it wasn’t the only thing that Kelly had to say about the wearing of masks – he also compared wearing them to wearing pants. Speaking during an interview on CNBC, the airline CEO came out in favor of the widespread wearing of masks during a pandemic, but felt that it shouldn’t be just airlines that have to mandate the wearing of them.
“I have no problem with a mask mandate, I just don’t think that it should think that it should be only for air travel. Let’s mandate masks. I mean, you have to wear pants, why can’t we mandate that you have to wear a mask in a pandemic?”
Whilst allowing the mandate to run its course without extension may be a symbolic victory in the battle against Covid-19, it may not be practical – particularly given the rate at which cases are starting to pick up once more. With 83% of flyers backing the mask mandate too, perhaps September would be a tad too early for a return to mask-free air travel.
This article originally appeared on Travel Off Path. For the latest breaking news that will affect your next trip, please visit: Traveloffpath.com
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