U.S. to extend airplane, transit mask mandate through April 18 – official

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U.S. to extend airplane, transit mask mandate through April 18 – official


WASHINGTON, March 10 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s administration will extend requirements for travelers to wear masks on airplanes, trains and in transit hubs through April 18 as public health authorities review when mask requirements should be dropped, an administration official told Reuters.

The move, which is expected be announced later on Thursday, extends the current requirements that were set to expire March 18 by a month. The official told Reuters that over the next month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will work with government agencies “to help inform a revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor.”

The Transportation Security Administration extension comes at the CDC’s recommendation. Airline and some government officials think this could be the last nationwide extension of the mask requirements.

Airlines and travel groups last month called on the administration by March 18 to “repeal the Federal mask mandate for public transportation or provide a clear roadmap to remove the mask mandate within 90 days.”

The CDC last month eased its guidance for wearing masks. U.S. government agencies have dropped mask requirements in federal buildings in the Washington area and other places with low or medium levels of COVID-19.

The CDC said last week that 93% of the U.S. population is in a location where COVID levels are low enough that people do not need to wear masks.

FILE PHOTO: Travelers check in at John F. Kennedy International Airport during the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant in Queens, New York City, U.S., December 26, 2021. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon/File Photo

The current CDC transit order, which has been in place since soon after Biden took office in January 2021, requires masks to be worn by all travelers on airplanes, ships, trains, subways, buses, taxis and ride-shares and at transportation hubs such as airports, bus or ferry terminals, train and subway stations, and seaports.

His predecessor, President Donald Trump, rejected requests from U.S. public health agencies to impose the requirements in transit – even though airlines and some other transportation modes had required masks.

Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis

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