US extends Covid travel mask mandate until May 3

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it is extending its COVID-19 mask mandate for public transportation and airplanes until May 3.


"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. TSA [Transportation Security Administration] will extend the security directive and emergency amendment for 15 days, through May 3, 2022," the statement said. The Biden administration has extended the order several times as it has struggled to react to COVID-19 and a range of variants. The order comes as more than 20 states report increases in infections fuelled by the BA.2 variant, a highly transmissible strain, but also a corresponding fall in hospitalizations.


The public transportation mask mandate is one of the few federal coronavirus measures left in place. The order requires "persons to wear masks over the mouth and nose when traveling on any conveyance (e.g., airplanes, trains, subways, buses, taxis, ride-shares, ferries, ships, trolleys, and cable cars) into or within the United States" and also while they are in or using transportation hubs.


The order has faced a host of legal challenges and significant pushback from government officials, businesses and ordinary Americans after the CDC updated its guidance to reflect the changing issue on the ground and outlined spaces where Americans did not need to wear masks.


Earlier this year, the CEOs of major American airlines penned a letter to the administration asking it to end the mask requirement on airplanes. The signatories complained that their employees have to bear the unenviable task of enforcing the mask mandate and dealing with increasingly hostile passengers.

(ANI/Sputnik)

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