On September 10th, the United States Department of Homeland Security made an announcement that it will greatly increase fines imposed on people who violate the federal mask mandate. As a result, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) doubles the fines for all mask mandate violators.
The Federal Mask Mandate Remains in Effect Until January 2022
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) implemented a federal mask mandate that remains in effect until January 18, 2022. The mandate covers travelers in all public transportation. This includes airports, while flying on commercial aircraft, railways, buses, and other mode of public transportation.
According to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas, “Wearing a mask protects the traveling public and all of the personnel who make the travel experience safe, secure, and comfortable”. Mayorkas also added, “We will continue to enforce the mask mandate as long as necessary to protect public health and safety.”
TSA Doubles Fines For Mask Mandate Violators
The new penalty ranges are in effect as of September 10th, 2021. The penalties are as follows:
- First Offense-$500-$1,000
- Second Offense-$1,000-$3,000
The TSA will display updated signage detailing the increased penalties at all airports. TSA Administrator David Pekoske commented, “We appreciate the majority of travelers each day who voluntarily follow the requirement but find this action necessary to maximize the protections for those who use and work within the transportation system, and to contain COVID-19.” Pekoske also stated, “By doubling the range of penalties, we seek to reinforce the importance of voluntary adherence.”
TSA Mask Mandate Penalties Separate From FAA Penalties
The federal mask mandate related penalties imposed by the TSA differ from the civil penalties issued by the Federal Aviation Administration for persons that engage in unruly and unsafe behavior. Since January 2021, the FAA received about 3,889 reports of unruly behavior by passengers with approximately 2,867 of these reports including passengers that refused to comply with the mask mandate.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Proposes More Penalties
The FAA released a public services campaign last July, called Zero Tolerance. In August, the FAA proposed another $531,545 in civil penalties against over 30 passengers for unruly behavior. These fines have already brought the total so far in 2021 to over $1,000,000.
Many of these cases involved passengers refusing to follow the federal mask mandate. This has caused increased agitation and physical altercations between airline passengers. For example, on May 16th, a passenger on a JetBlue flight from New York to San Francisco after interfering with crew members after refusing to wear a mask. This passenger ultimately received a $42,000 fine as a result of his unsafe and unruly behavior which included physical contact with another passenger.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories