By Isabella Grullón Paz
The Transportation Security Administration extended a mandate Friday that requires travelers to wear masks at airports, on airplanes and on commuter bus and rail systems, through Sept. 13. The mandate was set to expire on May 11.
“Right now, about half of all adults have at least one vaccination shot and masks remain an important tool in defeating this pandemic,” Darby LaJoye, a T.S.A. spokesperson, said in a statement.
The original order took effect in February and was part of the Biden administration’s goal to require masks for 100 days. Exceptions to the mandate are travelers under the age of 2 and those with certain disabilities that don’t allow them to wear a mask safely.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed mask rules earlier this week, saying that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear a mask outdoors while doing activities alone or in small gatherings. But the C.D.C. stopped short of not recommending masks outside altogether and still recommends wearing a mask indoors.
Airlines started requiring passengers to wear masks nearly a year ago, but they had no federal mandate to back up their rules. As the order’s expiration date got closer, leaders in the airline industry began to push for an extension. The Association of Flight Attendants applauded the extension in a statement. Earlier this month, it called for the directive to be extended to make it easier to deal with passengers who were not complying with mask rules set by airlines and airports.
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