American Airlines bans face masks with vents or valves

Passengers flying with the carrier must comply with the rules or may be banned from future travel with the airline

FILE PHOTO: A member of a ground crew walks past American Airlines planes parked at the gate during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, U.S., April 5, 2020.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts -/File Photo
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American Airlines has joined a long list of major carriers to ban face masks with exhaust valves or vents.

The move comes after the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that face coverings with one-way valves or vents may not be as effective in slowing the spread of the virus.

The new policy, effective from Wednesday, August 19, states that face coverings must be worn correctly, covering the nose and mouth, and can only be removed briefly for eating and drinking. It also bans masks made with materials that do not adequately prevent the disease, such as mesh or lace.

“Wearing a face covering is a responsibility we all share. An effective covering, worn properly, is one of the best ways we can control the spread of Covid-19 to protect our team members and customers,” said Alison Taylor, chief customer officer at American. “Since American began requiring face coverings in early May, the vast majority of customers have welcomed our continuing efforts to strengthen the policy based on the CDC’s guidance.”

Passengers travelling with American Airlines can be provided with an approved face covering upon request and are required to wear it from the time they enter their departure airport until they leave the airport where their trip ends. Only those under the age of 2 are exempt from the policy.

Those unwilling to comply with the rules may be denied boarding or even barred from future travel for the duration of the policy.

Why the ban against face masks with valves?

According to the CDC, face coverings with one-way valves or vents allow exhaled air to be expelled through holes in the material. These can allow exhaled respiratory droplets to reach others and potentially spread the coronavirus.

Several other carriers in the US already have similar bans, including United, JetBlue, Delta, Alaska and Southwest.