Transportation mask mandate extended through May 3
The Biden administration has extended the transportation mask mandate another 15 days, even as airlines call on the White House to end it.
The mandate — which will now run through May 3 — had been set to expire on April 18, after previously being extended by a month in March.
Airlines took it upon themselves to make masks mandatory starting early in 2020, and it would later become federally mandated by the Biden administration in early 2021.
The extension comes as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is working to monitor the spread of the omicron variant, including its BA.2 subvariant.
“Since early April, there have been increases in the 7-day moving average of cases in the U.S. 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 CDC Order will remain in place at this time,” the CDC said in a statement.
The extension comes amid repeated calls from Airlines for the Biden administration to drop mask mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions.
In late March, the group Airlines for America wrote a letter to President Biden, requesting he put an end to the COVID-19 restrictions, arguing data indicates it is “past time to eliminate COVID-era transportation policies.”
“It makes no sense that people are still required to wear masks on airplanes, yet are allowed to congregate in crowded restaurants, schools and at sporting events without masks, despite none of these venues having the protective air filtration system that aircraft do,” the letter said.
The CDC, meanwhile, said last month that it would be working with government agencies to decide “when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor,” reports CNBC.
The latest mask mandate extension is shorter than previous ones, however, with a decline in COVID-19 cases occurring since a winter surge.
The decline has also led to an increase in the demand for air travel, which is helping airlines in need of funds to help cover rising fuel bills.