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| 1 minute read

CDC extends mask mandate on commercial aircraft despite resistance

Unfortunately, Covid cases are on the rise ... yet again.  The rapid spread of an Omicron subvariant, BA.2, is to blame.  This subvariant now makes up more than 85% of new Covid cases in the U.S.  In response, the CDC's mask mandate for travel on planes and other public transit, set to expire on April 18th, was extended until May 3rd.  

The CDC explained its decision:  “In order to assess the potential impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and health care system capacity, the CDC order will remain in place at this time ..."   

Last month, the CEOs of nearly all of the major airlines wrote to the Biden administration, asking to do away with the mask mandate:  "It makes no sense that people are still required to wear masks on airplanes, yet are allowed to congregate in crowded restaurants, schools and at sporting events without masks, despite none of these venues having the protective air filtration system that aircraft do."  We also saw, last month, Democrats join Republicans in the Senate, in a 57-40 vote, to overturn the mask requirement.  The proposed bill, however, has not yet been taken up in the House.  

The CDC was evidently not influenced by this pressure.  While the CDC hoped to introduce a "flexible" masking policy for commercial air travelers, we will have to wait until, most likely, the end of April for an update.  According to the CDC, it needs this additional time to review data about the new subvariant, its impact on public health, and the unique risks posed by the intermingling of various air travelers.  We are keeping a close eye on this issue.  

Today, CDC is announcing two COVID-19 travel-related updates based on close-monitoring of the COVID-19 landscape in the United States and internationally.


transportation, aviation