Biden Administration, TSA Face Criticism for Extending Mask Mandate on Planes

by Caitlin Berard
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Vaccines are at an all-time high and COVID-19 cases have been declining for weeks. It appears that “normal” just might be on the horizon – except in airplanes. Earlier today, TSA issued a statement regarding the mask mandate on planes and in airports, announcing that the decision has been made to extend them for another month. This decision, made in partnership with the Biden administration, was met with heavy criticism from the public and politicians alike.

What to Know:

  • State and local governments are lifting mask mandates
  • President Biden extended mask mandates despite declining COVID-19 cases
  • The Biden Administration received backlash from the public and fellow politicians

TSA, Biden Administration Extend Mask Mandate

The Transportation Security Administration originally planned to lift mask mandates on public transportation and in transportation hubs on March 18th. The plans changed, however, and masks are now required in these spaces until April 18, 2022.

Though the extension came from TSA and the Biden administration, the recommendation came from the Centers for Disease Control. In the statement from TSA, officials said that the CDC will work on a “revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor.”

Like mask mandates in other settings, the CDC will adjust future recommendations based on COVID-19 levels, new variants, national data, and the latest science. Now, an earlier end to mask mandates is possible. It’s unlikely, however, as this extension came after a steady decline in COVID numbers.

According to the CDC themselves, as of March 8, the seven-day moving average number of cases in the U.S. was around 38,000. To put that into perspective, the seven-day moving average in January was over here 750,000.

Mask Mandate Extension Receives Pushback

The mask mandate extension received mixed reactions. Some Americans feel that the extension is helpful to vulnerable members of the population. Others feel it’s past time to let the masks go. The once hopeful travel industry stakeholders are firmly in the latter category.

In a letter to the White House coronavirus response coordinator, they asked that the Biden administration reconsider their decision. The letter read, “As leading U.S. travel and business organizations, we respectfully urge the Administration to chart a clear course for replacing pandemic-era travel advisories, requirements and restrictions.”

In addition to those in the travel industry, lawmakers across the country came together to write a letter of their own regarding the mask mandates. “Given strong declines in COVID-19 cases and the CDC’s latest guidance eliminating indoor mask requirements,” the letter reads. “We believe TSA’s mask mandate should expire later this month.”

Outsider.com