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TSA extends face mask requirement until September

The mandate was set to expire on May 11, but will now last until at least Sept. 13.
Credit: AP
Miami International Airport, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Miami, Florida. (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)

The Transportation Security Administration is extending the requirement to wear a face mask on public transportation throughout the U.S.

The face mask mandate was set to expire on May 11, but will now last until at least Sept. 13, according to a TSA spokesperson. The requirement includes airports, commercial aircraft, public buses and on rail systems. 

The previous mandate went into effect on Feb. 1 with the TSA continuing to recommend a fine for those refusing to wear a mask ranging from $250 for first time offenders and up to $1,500 for repeat offenders.

“The federal mask requirement throughout the transportation system seeks to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” Darby LaJoye, senior official performing the duties of the TSA Administrator, said in a statement. “Right now, about half of all adults have at least one vaccination shot and masks remain an important tool in defeating this pandemic."

Thousands of people have been banned from airlines for not complying with the mask order. The Hill reports that Delta Air Lines has banned more than 1,200 passengers for non compliance.

The news comes as Americans continue to get vaccinated and as summer travel is expected to ramp up. 

On Friday, the White House announced that 100 million Americans are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. According to officials, nearly 40% of all adult Americans have received their second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. A person is typically considered truly fully vaccinated when it is two weeks after that point.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says anyone fully vaccinated can resume domestic travel without having to test or quarantine before or after traveling. However, the CDC says those fully vaccinated should continue wearing a mask when indoors with unvaccinated individuals. 

For people who haven't been fully vaccinated, the CDC is sticking to its recommendation to avoid unnecessary travel. If they do travel, the agency says to get tested one to three days before the trip, and three to five days after. People should also stay home and quarantine for seven days after travel, even if their COVID-19 test is negative, the agency says.

Already, air travel in the United States has been picking back up. More than 1 million travelers daily have been going through U.S. airports in recent weeks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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