You're Banned From Doing This on Flights Until at Least May 3
This travel restriction is set to be in place for the next few weeks.
From drinking your own alcohol that you've brought onboard to sneaking anything flammable in your carry-on, there are countless things you're not allowed to do once you're on a plane. These flight rules aren't just suggestions either. Airlines have been known to permanently ban certain passengers from flying, and this has only become more common over the last couple years alongside COVID-based carrier restrictions. So if you're getting ready to fly anytime soon, you'll want to be aware of one restriction that is set to be in place for at least the next few weeks. Read on to find out what you're banned from doing on flights until May 3.
TSA just extended its mask mandate on flights.
Don't forget to grab your mask before you head to airport. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently announced that it is extending the face mask requirement on public transportation and in transportation hubs through May 3. The mandate, put in place by the Security Directives and Emergency Amendment, was set to end on April 18, but this new decision will prolong it by at least 15 days.
This decision was made due to increasing COVID cases.
According to the TSA, the decision to extend its mask mandate was made in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in light of COVID cases rising once again. "Since early April 2022, there have been increases in the 7-day moving average of COVID-19 cases in the United States," TSA explained in a statement.
According to data from the CDC, infections in the U.S. have risen by nearly 5 percent in just the last week. This comes after more than a month of steady decline from February through March. A large part of the uptick can be attributed to the rising spread of BA.2, an Omicron subvariant. As of April 8, this variant is estimated to be causing at least 72 percent of new COVID cases in the country, per the CDC.
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This is not the first time the mask mandate has been extended.
This is hardly the first time the government has chosen to hold off on ending its mask mandate for public transportation. It was first put in place by President Joe Biden in Feb. 2021, with an original expiration date was May 11, 2021. But over the last year, the mandate has been extended at least three times, per Reuters.
During the newest two-week extension, the CDC will continue monitor the spread of COVID and assess the potential impact of rising cases. For its part, the TSA said it will continue to coordinate with the agency and "communicate any changes" made to the mask requirement with the public.
"So what they're trying to do is give a little bit more time to assess its potential impact the rise of the cases had on severe disease, including hospitalization and deaths and healthcare system capacity," White House press secretary Jen Psaki explained during an April 13 briefing. "At the end of that two weeks they can determine what's next after that."
There have been many recent calls for the government to end its requirement.
As COVID cases were consistently falling in March, some people were not expecting the transportation mask mandate to get extended past its April expiration date. According to Reuters, various airline and government officials believed that the month extension of the expiration date from March 18 to April 18 would be the last nationwide extension of the mask mandate, especially given that the CDC eased its indoor mask guidance in February.
There have been a number of calls to end the policy. On April 13, the oldest and largest U.S. airline trade group Airlines for America (A4A) sent a letter to the Biden administration urging the removal of this restriction for airlines, Reuters reported. In this letter, A4A CEO Nicholas Calio asked Walensky and Health and Human Services secretary Xavier Becerra to "lean into science and research" that supports lifting the mandate.
"Numerous studies and public health experts have demonstrated that planes are among the safest indoor environments due to the superior ventilation and hospital-grade air filters on commercial aircraft," Calio said. "It makes no sense to require masks on a plane when masks are not recommended in places like restaurants, bars or crowded sports facilities."