The Biden administration will extend the federal mask mandate for all transportation networks through April 18, one month after it is set to expire.
The one-month extension is based off a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an administration official told The Hill.
“During that time, CDC will work with government agencies to help inform a revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor," the official said.
"This revised framework will be based on the COVID-19 community levels, risk of new variants, national data, and the latest science."
The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) mask mandate for travel on airplanes, in airports, on buses and on rail systems is currently set to expire on March 18.
The administration declared last week that wearing a mask indoors is no longer recommended in much of the U.S. as COVID-19 infection numbers have rapidly decreased in recent weeks after the omicron variant caused a winter surge.
The TSA mask mandate initially went into effect with an expiration date of May 2021 and TSA extended it a few times, most recently in December, before it was set to expire just after the new year.
President Biden signed an executive order on his first full day in office directing federal agencies to “immediately take action” to mandate the use of masks on trains, intercity buses, ferries and in airports.
The federal rule allows TSA to fine passengers who refuse to wear a mask while traveling. Under the rules, individuals who do not comply with the mandate will face a minimum fine of $500 with repeat offenders facing fines as high as $3,000.
The administration has not instituted testing or COVID-19 vaccine requirements for domestic travel, as it has for international flights, and the debate over whether to do so appears to have fizzled after some officials last year indicated requirements weren't off the table.
Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. From https://thehill.com. By Alex Gangitano.