Even after travel restrictions are lifted, one key element of the COVID-19 era might be here for the long haul: face masks. JetBlue, which already requires its crew to don masks while working, has become the first US airline to require passengers to wear masks.
Starting on May 4, 2020, passengers must be wearing a face mask at all stages of the flight, from check-in through disembarkment at the destination, to limit the spread of the virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a proper cloth face covering must fit snugly against the face, be secured with ties or ear loops, and include multiple layers of fabric.
While no specific penalty has been announced for passengers refusing to wear a mask, presumably they won’t be allowed to fly.
According to a JetBlue statement, “The CDC is recommending face coverings be worn in public, and we are encouraging our customers to follow these recommendations in our airports and in flight. Customers should also be aware that face coverings are now required in some states and cities that JetBlue serves.”
Following JetBlue’s lead, American Airlines recently announced a similar policy; it will be requiring all flight attendants to wear masks starting on May 1, as well as handing them out to passengers. It will also distribute sanitizing wipes and ensure that the plane is deep cleaned between each flight. The airline has already relaxed its seating policy to allow passengers to change seats within their cabin, if it results in greater social distancing, as well as blocking off most of its middle seats.
Delta is employing similar safety procedures, and other airlines are expected to follow suit. Canada, however, was the first country to truly streamline mask-wearing for travel. Since April 20, all Canadian travelers have been required to wear masks that cover their nose and mouth.