Travel is a big exception for new mask guidance in the United States, and the transportation industry says it will continue to strictly enforce mask use.
The head of the largest association of flight attendants said “there should be no confusion” about new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance saying fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks indoors, but still need to wear masks when traveling.
“This doesn’t include transportation,” Association of Flight Attendants President Sara Nelson told CNN. “There’s a mask order in place and it will be enforced, period.”
The Transportation Security Administration said Thursday that the federal transportation mask mandate will remain in place through September 13 on commercial flights, trains, buses, boats and in terminals.
“This federal requirement throughout the transportation system seeks to minimize the spread of Covid-19 on public transportation,” TSA said in a statement. “We will continue to work closely with the CDC to evaluate the need for these directives.”
Airlines For America, the industry’s top lobbying group, said US airlines will enforce the mask requirement as long as the mandate is in place.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Friday called on travelers to respect those who enforce the mask requirements.
“It is very important for travelers, commuters to recognize that those workers who are operating these systems, these vehicles — from a bus operator to a flight attendant — they are carrying out the mandates, the rules and the guidance that have been given to them,” Buttigieg said at a Washington Post event.
“It’s really important to show respect and support for them as they go about their jobs trying to keep everybody safe,” he added.
How people will react to the exception for travel to the CDC’s new guidance remains to be seen.
The recent uptick in angry passengers on board flights is a “huge concern,” the head of the Federal Aviation Administration told CNN in an exclusive interview on Thursday.
The agency says it has received more than 1,300 reports of unruly passenger incidents in the last three months, beyond just mask issues.
“I am always concerned,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “That’s what this zero tolerance policy is all about — to make sure that we get this situation under control.”