Once just a feature of hospitals, dental clinics and the odd flu-sufferer on the streets, masks have now become a ubiquitous part of everyday life in the US, and are one of the defining symbols of the pandemic. Love them or loathe them, it looks like they’re here to stay – for a little while longer at least.
The Transport Security Administration (TSA) has this week extended their mask requirements until September, with fines heading to those who do not comply. Here’s more about the extension of the requirement, plus a look at other Covid-19 related rules that apply to transportation.
Masks Required Until September – Information For Travelers
In a bid to halt the further spread of Covid-19 and its variants, the TSA has extended its order that requires people to wear masks in transportation settings. Originally introduced in February, the requirement – which is consistent with updated policies from the CDC – was set to expire on May 11th, but will now run until September 13th at the earliest.
According to the TSA’s website, the requirement will cover all transportation networks throughout the US, including at airports, on board commercial aircraft, on over-the-road buses, and on commuter bus and rail system. It will apply to all travelers over the age of 2, whilst those under the age of 2 and people with certain disabilities will be exempt from the requirement.
Speaking about the decision, a senior TSA official said:
“The federal mask requirement throughout the transportation system seeks to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation. About half of all adults have at least one vaccination shot and masks remain an important tool in defeating this pandemic. We will continue to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to evaluate the need for these directives and recognize the significant level of compliance thus far.”
Failure to adhere to the requirement could see offenders fined for their behavior. The civil penalty fine structure starts at $250, whilst repeat offenders could be charged as much as $1,500. The TSA also reminded travelers to continue washing their hands and practicing social distancing, as well encouraging them to keep up to date with any changes by checking the TSA or CDC websites.
Other Transport-Related Measure Travelers Should Know About
With many people stuck at home and not being able to travel as frequently as they might have liked, the TSA included some details in their press release about how the travel process might be different to what they remembered, such TSA officers wearing facemasks and gloves, the prevalence of acrylic barriers and new equipment designed and reducing physical contact. However, these aren’t the only changes to travel during the pandemic.
In an effort to enforce social distancing, many airlines decided not to sell middle seat tickets to increase the space between passengers. However, as the pandemic has dragged on and cases have fallen, we are now starting to see more and more airlines allow the use of middle seats once more.
Several airlines and cruise lines have also taken to vaccinating their crew members to ensure passenger safety. Etihad became the first airline to operate with an all-vaccinated crew on board, whilst several cruise lines have made it a requirement that both crew and passengers must be vaccinated in order to board.
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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