Air travel passengers will have to wait a little longer for the federal public transportation mask mandate to end. The government recently extended the mask requirement for flights, buses, and other forms of public transportation until May 3.
The previous end date was April 18, and extensions to keep people masked up on flights have been happening since 2020. Though it should be noted that this extension is only for 15 days — much shorter than the previous extensions. The reason for the move is to further study the BA.2 Omicron variant.
“In order to assess the potential impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and health care system capacity, the C.D.C. order will remain in place at this time,” the agency said in a statement obtained by the New York Times.
The possibility of another extension was kept on the table in the announcement.
Philadelphia recently reinstated its indoor mask mandate in public places as well due to the rise of the new highly transmissible variant. Still, travel industry leaders have been pushing to lift restrictions as people learn to live with COVID-19 through vaccinations and better treatment options. Airline employees in particular have taken the brunt of frustrations from passengers eager to return to travel. Arguments over masks and other pandemic-related restrictions have led to violent incidents on flights and a record number of fines. Some airlines are even asking for a national no-fly list to deal with the people fighting mask mandates on planes.
Until there’s a final decision on when in-flight mask mandates will end, make sure you have the right mask for flying.