Travel Mask Mandate Extended Another 15 Days

CDC says it needs more time to assess impact of BA.2 subvariant
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2022 2:00 PM CDT
Air Travel Mask Mandate Extended Until May
A person wearing a face mask walks in Philadelphia, Feb. 16, 2022.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, FILE)

The nationwide mask mandate on planes, trains, and other public transportation has been extended yet again. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that the mandate, which had been due to expire April 18, will be extended for at least another 15 days, meaning travelers will be required to mask up until May 3 at the earliest, USA Today reports. This is the fifth time the mandate has been extended. Florida and 20 other states challenged the rule in a lawsuit filed last month. The CDC said it needs the extra time to assess the impact of the highly infectious BA.2 omicron subvariant, which is now the dominant strain in the US.

"In order to assess the potential impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and health care system capacity, the CDC order will remain in place at this time,” the agency said in a statement. The extension was strongly opposed by airlines, the AP reports. In a letter to the CDC, Nicholas Calio, CEO of industry trade group Airlines for America, said it made no sense to require masks on planes but not in "crowded bars and restaurants; in packed sports arenas; in schools full of children; or at large indoor political gatherings." Polls show Americans are almost evenly split on the merits of keeping the mandate, with Democrats far more in favor of it than Republicans. (Philadelphia is bringing back its mask mandate.)

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