The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced Friday it has extended the federal mask mandate until September.
Initially implemented in February, the ruling that requires all travelers over the age of 2 to wear face coverings on airplanes, in airports, and on buses or trains was due to expire on May 11 but will be extended until at least Sept. 13, the agency announced in a press release.
"The federal mask requirement throughout the transportation system seeks to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation," the senior official performing the duties of the TSA administrator, Darby LaJoye, said in a statement. "Right now, 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."
As wearing face masks has become a normal part of everyday life while traveling or simply running errands amid the COVID-19 pandemic, people who are non-compliant can face hefty fines or removal from airplanes.
The Biden administration has also required face masks to be worn in national parks and while traveling between states.
The TSA's announcement follows the CDC's latest guidance stating vaccinated Americans do not need to wear a mask in certain outdoor situations.
"Until more people are vaccinated, and while [we] still have more than 50,000 cases a day, mask use indoors will provide extra protection," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during a news conference earlier this week. "The more people who are vaccinated, the more steps we can take toward spending time with people we love doing the things we love to enjoy."
"I am optimistic people will use this information to take personal responsibility to protect themselves and protect others," she added.
The agency's statement specifically noted that regardless of the CDC's new mask guidance, and the fact that vaccinated Americans can now travel freely, face coverings are still required on public transportation.
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