Travelers nationwide will have to wear face coverings when flying for a little while longer.
On Thursday, the Transportation Security Administration announced that it will extend the federal mask mandate for the country’s mass transportation systems through April 18. The mandate had been set to expire on March 18.
The extension is a result of recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“At CDC’s recommendation, TSA will extend the security directive for mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs for one month, through April 18,” the agency said in a statement.
“During that time, CDC 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. This revised framework will be based on the COVID-19 community levels, risk of new variants, national data, and the latest science. We will communicate any updates publicly if and/or when they change.”
The federal mask mandate has been in effect since Feb. 2, 2021, as part of widespread COVID-19 mitigation efforts launched by the Biden administration.
It is the third time the mandate has been extended since it was enacted. However, the latest one-month extension is also the shortest to date; previous extensions have ranged between 2-4 months in length.
Airline crews are tasked with enforcing the mask policy on planes and have noted a surge in unruly passenger behavior, with many of those instances related to masks.
According to recent data from the Federal Aviation Administration, nearly 66 percent of passenger incidents reported to the agency have been related to face masks. For the week ending on Jan. 30 of this year, the recorded unruly passenger rate was 6.2 incidents per 1,000 flights, up from a weekly average of 2.45 in Q4 2020.
As part of the PIT’s Safe Travels program, passengers who forget their masks can pick one up at the landside information desk prior to the security checkpoint. For additional information on the PIT Safe Travels program, click here.