Travel

Airline Mask Mandate Extended Into 2022

This ultimately doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but the federal mask mandate for airplanes and airports has been extended into 2022.

Biden extends mask mandate until January 2022

The federal transportation mask mandate in the United States has now been extended through January 18, 2022. For context:

  • All airlines in the United States started requiring masks in 2020, within a few months of the start of the pandemic
  • When Biden took office in January 2021, he introduced a federal transportation mask mandate, which applied to airlines and airports; while it didn’t have that many practical implications, it ultimately supported airline employees in enforcing a federal law, rather than just an airline policy
  • Until recently this was supposed to apply through September 14, 2021
  • With it being less than a month until this was due to expire, this has now been extended by roughly four more months

This shouldn’t come as a surprise

I think I speak on behalf of nearly everyone when I say that I wish this weren’t being extended (though everyone has different motives — most people wish others would get vaccinated so we could get this pandemic under control, while other people think, well… something).

But realistically speaking, it was a given that this was going to be extended:

  • The delta variant and lack of vaccination is causing coronavirus to spiral out of control again — we’ve gone from an average of 11K cases per day, to an average of 140K cases per day
  • The CDC has reversed its guidance on vaccinated people not having to wear masks indoors, given the rising case numbers along with breakthrough infections
  • As we get into fall and winter, there are even more concerns about the spread of coronavirus, as people in many parts of the country will be congregating indoors more frequently

Even beyond the situation in the United States and federal regulations, the reality is that airlines lifting mask mandates will be complicated:

  • Even if the United States were to lift its mask mandate for aviation, other countries might not
  • It will create a lot of confusion if passengers have to wear masks to some destinations, but not others

I have no clue when we’ll no longer have to wear masks on planes, but personally I don’t think it will be an easy process, and I don’t think it’ll be in early 2022.

Bottom line

The federal transportation mask mandate in the United States has been extended through January 18, 2022. This comes as the country is seeing a surge in coronavirus cases, given the delta variant, and the number of people choosing not to get vaccinated.

Personally I’d be shocked if this weren’t extended beyond January 2022…

What do you make of the federal transportation mask mandate being extended?

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