The federal mask mandate on planes and airports is currently set to expire on Jan. 18 after an extension last summer. But you'll have to keep your mask on for your flight for even longer.
President Joe Biden's administration is extending the federal mask mandate for public transportation through March 18, according to remarks released Thursday ahead of a planned announcement. The news was first reported by Reuters late Wednesday.
That move is part of a series of enhanced travel restrictions as the nation prepares to fight against the spread of a mysterious new COVID-19 variant. The White House is also enacting even tougher testing restrictions for international travel, requiring all Americans and other travelers to get a negative COVID-19 test no more than one day before flying to the U.S. – regardless of vaccination status.
Those new testing requirements will take effect next week. Despite some initial concerns, there are no current signs that the U.S. will also require travelers to self-quarantine after returning home from abroad.
“This tighter testing timeline provides an added degree of public health protection as scientists continue to assess the Omicron variant,” a White House statement reads.
Airlines big and small made masking onboard mandatory from the start of the pandemic last year, but Biden made it a federal requirement through executive order on his first day in office. This will be the third extension since it was originally put into place, making for almost two full years with masks onboard planes – if not even longer.
There had been hope among airlines, travelers, and even Congress that masking requirements would end after the busy summer travel season. Mask requirements have become a major flashpoint in the skies, helping fuel a drastic surge in unruly passengers and a zero-tolerance crackdown from the Federal Aviation Administration.
But the fast-spreading Delta variant changed that calculus this summer, driving another wave of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths across the country. And with alarm about the Omicron variant growing by the day, that continues.
An extension means that all travelers will continue to be required to wear masks in airports, on airplanes, and on other forms of public transport through the winter travel season. It will now last through at least March 18, 2022.
While transmission on planes appears to be fairly low thanks to hospital-grade filtration systems, public health officials have said that masks are critical in preventing further spread of COVID-19 through travel. Plus, there's much more to travel than simply sitting on a plane.
“Masks are really powerful and we should make sure they're part of our arsenal,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Marty Cetron previously said. “The truth is that the unvaccinated portion that's out there is extremely vulnerable.”
We are treated like the world around us is a hospital floor and everyone is sick! STOP this nonsense and the fear mongering! This is outrageous to decide over our health with a virus that is 99.95% survivable!!!!!!
Exactly! Well said. It’s proven that masks don’t stop the particulate size of Covid anyway. It can travel either through the mask or around the sides. Think of a wall made of chain link fence representing your mask and a gnat as Covid. The Govt doesn’t get it. They just want fear and control.
Obviously, those who make these ridiculous mask mandates never cared for, perhaps never even met, a small toddler. Or a person with a disability. We have been unable to fly to see family for over 2 yrs because we have a 3-year-old daughter. And we probably will get kicked off the flight cause she won’t keep a mask on for more than a couple minutes. At least make it for older than 5 years, as recommended by WHO! We have almost $2,000 in tavel funds from cancelled trips that we are now going to lose. The situation with these mask mandates is very frustrating and infuriating. People seem to have totally lost their minds and common sense out of fear.
I think that all who voted for the current president should be required to wear masks for the rest of their lives!
Ha so much for following the science. MNs very own Dr. Michael Osterholm, a top Biden COVID official, admitted on CNN only a few weeks ago that cloth masks are ineffective and dont work. Our gov. says one thing and does another, one might call that lying. Whatever, we get what we vote for I guess [insert trash emoji]. What an absolute joke
You are wildly selfish and what an ignorant comment. You are ok with ~80million fatalities at your commented 99% survivability rate? All for the the minor inconvenience of having to wear a mask while packed in a little metal tube for a few hours. The same little metal tube that further enables you to spread your ignorance even further afield….
I would gladly wear a mask if it helped. It doesn’t. In fact it is the opposite. It suppresses the immune system. And a good strong immune system is our best defense.
Delighted to hear about the the mask mandate extension before my first pandemic airplane trip (to Hawaii) in Oct!
It never fails to surprise me how many ways some people find to stick their heads in the sand and ignore the science and accurate information out there. Really strange how the communities with the lowest rates of vaccinated people and no mask mandates have the highest rates of infection and full hospitals. Go figure!
Thanks goodness I live in a county that is has 70% of eligible people fully vaccinated and even higher in my city!
I am assuming that all the mask objectors also are vaccination “hesitant “.
You, as a group, are responsible for the death toll we are all experiencing…..perhaps you need a parent or child to succumb to believe the real facts.
I, for one, just wish you would get sick and die already so we can get to herd immunity….you are extending the misery for the rest of us.
Sir Steve, youre only causing yourself to be miserable with comments like that wishing death upon people. Unfortunately for you, most people who choose not to be vaccinated likely live healthy lifestyles and will experience COVID with little to no symptoms. By your logic, anyone who smokes should be put to death because 2nd hand smoke can be deadly for those around them. Start the purge!