US domestic travelers must wear masks on airplanes and other forms of public transportation through at least Sept. 13 — regardless of their vaccination status, the TSA said Friday.
“The federal mask requirement throughout the transportation system seeks to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” TSA chief Darby LaJoye said in a statement.
“Right now, about half of all adults have at least one vaccination shot and masks remain an important tool in defeating this pandemic.”
President Biden on Jan. 21 ordered TSA and other government agencies to take action to require masks in airports and on commercial aircraft, trains and public maritime vessels, including ferries, intercity bus services and all public transportation.
TSA’s mask rule and accompanying civil penalties have been in effect since Feb. 1.
Children under two years old are exempt as are people with certain disabilities. Everyone else is subject to fines starting at $250 and rising to $1,500 for repeat offenders. Most airlines also ban customers who violate mask rules.
Under former President Donald Trump, a CDC push to mandate masks in transit was blocked and the agency instead only issued strong recommendations for mask use. Trump also rejected efforts by Congress to mandate mask use.
Airline travel is way down compared to before the pandemic, with just 1.5 million travelers on Thursday compared to nearly 2.5 million the same time in 2019, according to TSA figures.