According to reporting from various news outlets including ABC News’ transportation journalist Sam Sweeney, a Department of Transportation source has confirmed the mask mandate for travelers on planes, trains, and buses will be extended to January 18, 2022.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plan to announce the extension publicly later this week or early next, the source said.
The transportation mask mandate has been cited as a primary source of recent unruly passenger incidents in-flight and in airports. It requires face masks to be worn by travelers on all public forms of transportation, including airplanes, trains, buses, taxis, cruise ships, and ferries, as well as at terminals such as airports and train stations. The current mandate includes fines for people who don’t comply and exempts travelers under the age of 2 and those with certain disabilities.
President of the Association of Flight Attendants, Sara Nelson said of the extension,
“Administrator Pekoske’s decision in coordination with the Biden administration to continue the TSA enforcement directive for the CDC transportation mask mandate will help tremendously to keep passengers and aviation workers safe. We all look forward to the day masks are no longer required but we’re not there yet. Let’s focus on putting COVID-19 in check together. Get vaxxed, wear a mask, be kind, and come fly with us!
The United States is facing a COVID-19 surge this summer as the more contagious delta variant spreads. More than 622,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and over 4.3 million people have died from the disease worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Just 59.4% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.