(Trends Wide) — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will extend the federal mask-wearing mandate on public transportation for another 30 days, an administration official told Trends Wide, pointing to guidance from the Centers for the United States Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The mandate is one of the last remaining blanket requirements for Americans to wear masks in public places. It applies to mass transportation, including planes, trains, buses, and hubs such as airports.
The official’s comments came after Trends Wide reported that federal officials had begun notifying airline industry players of the upcoming announcement. Three sources, including two industry officials and a government official, described the conversations to Trends Wide on condition of anonymity.
The requirement, which now runs through April 18, was previously due to expire a week after Friday, and the policy will be reviewed over the next month, the official said.
“During that time, the CDC will work with government agencies to help inform a revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required on public transportation,” the official said. “This revised framework will be based on community levels of COVID-19, the risk of new variants, national data and the latest science. We will communicate any updates publicly if and/or when they change.”
One source told Trends Wide that this means the CDC could finally allow the mandate to be lifted before the 30-day period is up if virus transmission rates across the country drop to low enough levels.
The federal announcement comes at a time when many state and local mask mandates have been abandoned or are about to be rescinded.
In the skies, mask mandates have proven to be a divisive issue. Flight crew unions applauded the move for protecting flight attendants who cannot avoid close contact with dozens of passengers.
But some passengers refused, leading to more than 4,800 reports to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about passengers who became unruly or violent by breaking the mask rule. The agency has taken a zero-tolerance approach to flight disruptions, which have increased during the pandemic.
Some in the airline industry have raised concerns that the mandate will be lifted too early, before another wave of the coronavirus hits.
“What we really don’t want is to lift the mandate and have to reimpose it,” one of the sources told Trends Wide.