Americans must continue to wear masks on all public transport, including planes, trains and buses, the Federal Transportation Security Authority (TSA) said on Friday.
The previous mandate, which applies to all public transport, expired in May.
Last week officials said they were discussing whether or not a mask mandate for transportation should be reintroduced. The airlines supported the mandate and some passengers expressed frustration with the request.
Health officials also said last week that fully vaccinated Americans can take their masks off anytime they are outdoors, except in crowds. However, they advised everyone, vaccinated and unvaccinated, to keep covering their faces indoors.
The TSA mask mandate will now be in force until September 30, the agency announced in a Friday tweet.
Exceptions are allowed for children under two years of age and people with certain disabilities.
TSA advises experts on whether a federal mask mandate for local transport, which was issued in February and expires next month, should be extended
“The state mask requirement across the transportation system aims to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in public transportation,” said Darby LaJoye, the senior official in charge of the TSA administrator’s duties.
Currently, around half of all adults have at least one vaccination shot, and masks remain an important tool to help fight this pandemic.
“We will continue to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to assess the need for these guidelines and recognize the significant levels of compliance they have seen to date.”
Earlier this month, the CDC also released data showing that unlocking the middle seat on flights increases the risk of spreading Covid. Letting people sit in the middle seats runs the risk of COVID-19 spreading by 23 to 57 percent, according to laboratory studies.
On the flip side, more than half of adults in the US have now received at least one shot, and the CDC says it is safe for people fully vaccinated to travel.
The wearing of masks is almost ubiquitous and an inseparable part of the “new normal”.
But for many they are still a sensitive issue.
Mask protests broke out in Colorado and California just last week, especially in schools where they are still needed.
Mask mandates where governors prohibited counties and cities from issuing requirements for face-covering have been repealed in states like Texas and Arizona.
Both current President Biden and former President Trump said they would not give full federal mask mandates.
Under Biden, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued a federal ordinance for local transport in February.
So far, the real risk of coronavirus transmission on air and train travel appears to be low, in part due to the high revenue generated by air circulation in planes and systems like the New York subways.
However, experts also attribute these low fall rates to mask wear and travel themselves, especially during vacations and during SP.
The Americans were broadly compliant, but the official told CNN that the TSA had submitted 2,000 reports of alleged denials of properly wearing masks – up from fewer than 1,000 in February.
The interpretations of the mask requirements are also different.
Earlier this month, a family traveling home from Florida to New York made headlines when Spirit staff started them, allegedly because their two-year-old daughter did not wear her mask while eating yogurt before it started
Most airlines are still handing out water and minimal snacks during the flight, which means passengers can at least briefly take off their masks.
Earlier this month, a family traveling home from Florida to New York made headlines when Spirit staff started them, allegedly because their two-year-old daughter did not wear her mask while eating yogurt before it started.
And while airlines are predictably opposed to travel bans and restrictions, they support maintaining the masking.
“We think it should keep the mask mandate,” said Nick Calio, President and CEO of Airlines for America, at a Senate hearing on Wednesday.
“It has helped a lot on airplanes and at airports.”
Individual airlines could meet mask requirements, but those rules could be more difficult to enforce without federal quotes at stake.