It has been one of the most controversial topics in American aviation during the pandemic — and a trigger for violent passenger attacks.
The current federal requirement to mask on planes and other public transportation is set to expire Monday, April 18, but the Biden administration has yet to decide whether to extend or end the mandate. While travelers have mixed feelings about a possible extension, the airline industry is renewing its push for the government to drop the rule.
“We must remove these mandates,” Roger Dow, President of U.S. Travel Association said. He, and three industry groups have cited “economic costs” to justify the removal of travel mask regulations for everyone.
The approaching deadline comes as COVID-19 infections begin to surge again in some parts of the U.S., with more than two dozen states reporting a jump in cases over the past week. Some fliers feel it is time to make a decision about whether they want to wear masks or not.
“They should’ve given people the option from the start whether or not they wanted it to be worn,” John Delgado said, as a Reagan National Airport passenger in Washington D.C .
” I don’t care. Ana Veciana Suarez, a traveler said that she would wear hers.
Most Americans favor an extension. A recent survey by The Harris Poll COVID-19 tracker found that six in 10 people support extending the travel mask mandate. This is a critical issue because it has one of the few remaining mask mandates. COVID-19 restrictions were largely relaxed across the country following a wave of Omicron cases earlier this year. And even as cities like Philadelphia reinstate indoor mask rules amid a surge of infections in recent days, hospitalizations and deaths have not seen a major increase.
” We have many variations of an unpredicted virus. “But we are seeing more and more of these variants being less severe,” Dow said to CBS News’ transport correspondent Errol Barnett.
In a recent letter to Dr. Ashish Jha (the new White House coronavirus respond coordinator), several airlines cited U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that states “the overwhelming majority” of Americans no longer need to wear masks indoors. “
Allie Malis is the representative of American Airlines’ government affairs union and said that health and scientific data must be considered when making decisions.
” We all hope for the day that masks will no longer be necessary,” she stated. It’s important to cooperate until then. “
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated Monday that the CDC is still to decide its next steps.
In the U.K., where coronavirus restrictions were dropped last month, multiple airlines have had to cancel more flights out of London than usual, citing staffing shortages because of COVID-19.