The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said on Aug. 17 it will extend a mask mandate for travelers on airplanes, trains, and buses, as well as at airports and train stations, in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The mandate now runs through Jan. 18, 2022; it had previously been extended in April through Sept. 13.
“The purpose of TSA’s mask directive is to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” a TSA spokesperson said in a statement, according to Reuters.
Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants–CWA, which represents some 50,000 flight attendants at 17 airlines, said in a statement that the mask mandate “will help tremendously to keep passengers and aviation workers safe.” She also urged people to get vaccinated.
Not everyone has been compliant with mask mandates on public transportation. The Federal Aviation Administration stated on Aug. 17 that 2,867 incidents have been reported by airlines of passengers refusing to wear a mask.
The TSA mask mandate is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) federal mask-wearing rule that was issued on Jan. 29 and went into effect on Feb. 1. The current version of the CDC rule requires everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask while in indoor areas of transportation hubs.
The CDC told CNN in a statement on Aug. 17 that emerging evidence suggests the Delta variant is “more formidable” than the original strain of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus and that fully vaccinated people who have the Delta variant “might be infectious.”