Face masks remain mandatory for travellers in the US until April

TSA has extended a mandate making face coverings compulsory on planes until April 18

As Covid-19 restrictions around the world ease, some airlines have changed their policies on face masks. Photo: Etihad
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Travellers flying to and within the US must continue to wear face masks on planes.

That’s after the Transportation Security Administration extended its mask mandate, which makes face coverings obligatory on planes, in airports and on trains.

Only one week before the mandate was due to expire, the TSA announced on Thursday that it was extending the policy until April 18.

The extension is based on a recommendation from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.

A traveller walks through the arrivals area at the Los Angeles International Airport on November 30, 2021. AP Photo

In a statement, TSA said the CDC will work on a “revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor.”

The mandate will be revised based on Covid-19 case numbers, the risk of new variants and emerging national data. Exemptions remain for travellers under the age of 2, and for those with certain disabilities.

An American Airlines flight attendant hands out snack bags during a flight from Dallas Fort Worth airport in Grapevine, Texas. AP Photo

The authority also said that the mandate could be removed earlier than mid-April, should the science support such a move.

If follows the CDC's easing of Covid-19 guidelines for when Americans should wear masks indoors, including in schools, a move that means 72 per cent of the population will reside in communities where indoor face coverings are no longer recommended.

UK airline drops face mask requirements on some flights

As Covid-19 restrictions around the world begin to ease, some airlines have already changed their policies on face masks.

Jet2 planes parked at Birmingham airport. Reuters

Jet2 — a low-cost UK carrier — was the first major airline to announce that face masks were no longer obligatory on flights.

“It’s no longer a legal requirement to wear a face mask at our airports or on-board our planes,” the airline said on its website.

“However, as per UK Government guidance, we recommend that you continue to wear a face mask in these spaces, and you will need to wear one when you get to your overseas destination.”

Flying from 10 hubs in the UK to more than 60 holiday spots across Europe, the budget carrier has a different rule for travellers flying on Jet2 flights to Scotland.

Passengers on Jet2 flights must continue to don the protective face gear when flying to Glasgow or Edinburgh where local regulations mean face masks remain compulsory for all travellers.

Ultra low-cost Irish airline Ryanair has also said that it hopes to ease face mask requirements on flights before summer travel.

Updated: March 11, 2022, 9:34 AM