ALPA applauds TSA extension of face mask requirements at airports

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On Tuesday, the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) announced its support for the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) decision to extend the requirement for individuals to wear face masks across all transportation networks throughout the United States, including airports, onboard commercial aircraft, on over-the-road buses, and on commuter bus and rail systems.

The TSA’s initial face mask requirement went into effect on February 1 and expired on May 11. On May 4, TSA announced it would be extending the mask-wearing requirement through September 13.

“The federal mask requirement throughout the transportation system seeks to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” said Darby LaJoye, the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the TSA Administrator. “Right now, about half of all adults have at least one vaccination shot, and masks remain an important tool in defeating this pandemic. We will continue to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to evaluate the need for these directives and recognize the significant level of compliance thus far.”

The CDC recently released guidelines that recognized many Americans are getting vaccinated, but that even those vaccinated will have to wear masks, stay socially distant and use hand sanitizer.

ALPA said the extension would ensure the safety of passengers and crew from unruly passengers.

“ALPA applauds the extension of the current mandate that requires passengers to wear masks in all U.S. airports and onboard commercial airline aircraft. Since the onset of COVID-19, ALPA has called on federal regulators to mandate compliance with CDC guidelines, including mask wearing, to protect the health and safety of all those onboard the aircraft and to prevent the needless loss of life and careers. These efforts are helping to restore public confidence in air travel, and crewmembers today are welcoming more and more passengers back aboard our planes,” the group said in a statement. “Ensuring the safety and security of every flight is a responsibility pilots take very seriously, and ALPA commends the TSA and FAA for their continued focus on in-flight safety by also extending the Special Emphasis Enforcement Program regarding unruly passengers. This coordinated level of government leadership and action will further enable crewmembers to swiftly handle noncompliant passengers before any potential in-flight issues arise.”

Exemptions to the mask-wearing requirement will continue for travelers under the age of 2, and those with certain disabilities continue. Those not exempted who violate the mask wearing requirement could face civil penalties ranging from $250 for first-time offenders to $1,500 for repeat offenders.