I warned you this would happen, but you supported a federal mask mandate anyway. Airlines already required mask-wearing on planes. I told you that if the federal government got involved this would mean fewer options for travels, and less mask-wearing overall. Guess which one of us was right?
Late Friday night the CDC issued its rule for mask-wearing on public transportation and airlines following the President’s executive order asking them to do so.
Currently United, American and Southwest require everyone two years old and above to wear masks, with no exceptions for disability or other health reasons. Delta allows health exceptions with airport consultation with a medical professional and exceptions for young children who cannot wear masks for prolonged periods.
These new rules,
- Apply to everyone two years of age and older, so there’ll will be no option to fly Delta with a two year old that won’t keep their mask on, even though very young children do not spread the virus to the same extent as adults.
- Allow exemptions for disability – which United, American and Southwest currently do not – and many conditions aren’t obvious to airline employees upon mere visual inspection. Airlines will be allowed to require medical documentation or consultation, but will have to defer once that’s presented.
- Apply even to intra-state travel “while boarding, disembarking, and traveling on any conveyance into or within the United States [and] at any transportation hub that provides transportation within the United States.”
- Allows masks to be removed “briefly” for eating, drinking, going through security as well as taking medication.
- Tells airlines to “use best efforts” at enforcement up to “at the earliest opportunity, disembarking any person who refuses to comply.”
- Put the TSA in charge of enforcement with a role for both “other federal authorities” and coordination with “state and local authorities.”
We’ll see exactly how this is implemented in the coming days, however we will see airlines that didn’t used to allow medical mask exemptions beginning to do so as a result of the new federal mask mandate, which means more people without masks than are currently flying today.
Oh, and for those of you who thought at least violating the rule will have criminal penalties not just an airline ban, “[t]he CDC said people violating the order could potentially face criminal penalties but suggested civil penalties would be more likely if needed.”
This new rule, which provides for more exceptions than current airline policy, goes into effect Monday at 11:59 p.m. (so, effectively, Tuesday).