The Biden administration is preparing to extend the mask mandate on airplanes and public transportation, according to multiple media accounts. The mandate, which was set to expire on March 18th, will be extended another month as officials continue to monitor the drop in COVID-19 cases across the country.
Airplanes and public transportation are some of the last places where Americans are still required to wear masks. Most states have lifted their requirements for schools and other public places, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidelines say that masks aren’t necessary in areas with a low risk for transmission.
The mask requirement for air travel and public transit will now extend to April 18th, according to CNN. The administration is coordinating with airline carriers, as well as flight attendants and other workers who will be impacted by the extension. The mandate could be lifted before April 18th if case numbers continue to drop, one official told the news channel.
On his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring masks on airplanes and public transportation after his predecessor Donald Trump had blocked the CDC from issuing a similar order in 2020.
Throughout the pandemic, public health officials have uniformly recommended the wearing of masks to curb the spread of COVID-19, particularly in crowded, poorly ventilated areas. On its website, the CDC “strongly recommends” wearing masks on transportation to reduce the chance of getting and spreading the virus.
A spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.