The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will extend its mask mandate through at least early next year, a spokesperson for the agency confirmed to Spectrum News.
Reuters first reported that President Joe Biden would announce an extension of the administration's mask mandate on public transportation early Tuesday. Major U.S. airlines were reportedly briefed on the extension by officials from the TSA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); a call between government officials and aviation unions is scheduled for Wednesday, per Reuters.
Biden in January issued a flurry of executive orders that, in part, mandated masks on all forms of public transportation, including airports, commercial aircraft, trains, public maritime vessels and ferries and most bus services.
The TSA first imposed the mandat from February through May, later re-upping the requirement with an expiration date of Sept. 13. A spokesperson for the agency said in an emailed statement to Spectrum News that the TSA has extended the directive through January 2022.
“TSA will extend the directives through January 18, 2022. The purpose of TSA’s mask directive is to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” the spokesperson wrote.
The guidance will remain largely unchanged from the directive given early this year, save for a June update from the CDC allowing people to remove their masks in “outdoor areas of conveyances” or in outdoor transportation hubs.
The move to continue mask-wearing on public transportation comes amid a surge in COVID-19 infections, largely due to the highly infectious nature of the delta variant.
The U.S. is reporting an average of around 128,000 new cases per day, down significantly from this January, but markedly higher than the seven-day-moving average in mid-to-late June, when new daily cases dipped to around 11,600.
Spectrum News has reached out to the White House and the CDC for comment.