The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced they would extend the national transportation face mask mandate for another 15 days, now set through May 3, 2022.
Extension Based on COVID-19 BA.2 Subvariant Spread in U.S.
The extension is based on the upward-trending cases of COVID-19 in the United States caused by the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron. According to the CDC, 85% of cases currently in the U.S. are BA.2 infections. As a result, the agency says the extension is essential for preserving the health of travelers and stopping the spread of the virus. The Transportation Security Administration will be responsible for enforcing the rule.
“Since early April, there have been increases in the 7-day moving average of cases in the U.S.,” the CDC statement reads. “The CDC Mask Order remains in effect while CDC assesses the potential impact of the rise of cases on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and healthcare system capacity.”
In addition, the CDC will also change their approach to the international Travel Health Notice system. Level 4 will now be reserved for “special circumstances” related to COVID-19, including “rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern, or healthcare infrastructure collapse.” Levels 1 through 3 will be based on the rolling 28-day incidence or case count, with Tier 3 being the highest.
The national face mask mandate was put into place in February 2021, requiring all publicly-available transportation riders – including commercial airline passengers – to wear a face covering while in terminal buildings and aboard aircraft. The rule will continue through 15 months, despite many states reducing or dropping their face covering requirements.
Extension Continues Rules Against Travel Stakeholders Requests
The CDC extension is against the wishes of several travel stakeholders, who have all asked officials to allow the mandate to end to help the sector recover. Airlines for America along with the major U.S. passenger airlines, the Southwest Airlines flight attendants union and the U.S. Travel Association have all called for the face mask rule to end without further extensions.
Source: frugal travel guy