Chairs DeFazio and Thompson Urge FAA, TSA to Enforce Federal Mask Mandate for Airline Passengers to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19
(WASHINGTON) – Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) are urging the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to closely coordinate with all stakeholders to enforce President Joe Biden’s Federal mask mandate for airline passengers to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and ensure passenger and frontline aviation and transportation security worker safety. The lawmakers are asking the TSA to enforce the mandate at security checkpoints and the FAA to work with all U.S. airlines to ensure passengers are well-informed about the mandate and what types of masks are compliant with the new policy.
In their letter to FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson and TSA Acting Administrator Darby LaJoye, the Committee Chairs wrote: “The Federal mask mandate for travelers within the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic was long overdue. The refusal by the previous administration to issue this commonsense requirement to mitigate the spread of this disease led to preventable infections and deaths. While we are pleased this Order and CDC’s subsequent guidance are now in effect, it is critical that your agencies, working in conjunction with air carriers and airports, make a robust effort to inform airline passengers of the mandate and mask standards and enforce compliance.”
At the end of January the TSA issued a number of security directives requiring masks to be worn in airports, on commercial aircraft, and in various modes of surface transportation in conjunction with President Biden’s Executive Order, Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
While Chairs DeFazio and Thompson applauded TSA’s directive, they urged coordination and increased communication from the agencies as the policies are implemented and enforced, writing: “Your agencies have already worked in close coordination with industry stakeholders and relevant Federal partners throughout this pandemic. We believe that continued robust coordination, enhanced communication with passengers, and decisive enforcement action will help mitigate the spread of this insidious disease and ensure the safety of passengers and frontline aviation and transportation security workers.”
The TSA, and in particular Transportation Security Officers (TSOs), will be tasked with enforcing the new directive and will deny passage through the security screening process to any passenger not complying with the mandate and levying fines in appropriate situations.
A copy of the letter can be found here.
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