The Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, has announced that the mask mandate on public transportation has been extended through April 18, 2022. This U.S. travel mask mandate will be enforced for any type of public transportation to, from, and within the United States. This includes travel by air, bus, train, taxi, and any other type of public transportation.
This mask mandate was originally set to expire in January, however, it was extended for two months due to the spike in COVID-19 Omicron cases. This brought the new expiration date to March 18, 2022. However, after review by the CDC and other government agencies, it has been extended again for another month to ensure that a proper plan is in place for safe COVID-19 travel protocols.
Within the next month, the CDC will work closely with various government agencies to decide upon a revised framework for how or if masks will be required in public transportation moving forward past the new extension date. Factors that will be considered include the risk of any new variants, COVID-19 community levels, national data regarding COVID-19 cases, and the latest developments in science. The new U.S. travel mask mandate extension policy can be terminated earlier than the new date if the data studied supports such a decision.
This public transportation mask mandate extension comes just weeks after the CDC announced new guidelines for relaxing mask regulations, and as most states are lifting, or are in the process of lifting, their indoor mask requirements. The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said Thursday that coming to a solution requiring travel policy is much more complicated than setting the standards for local communities.
Does This Affect January’s PHE?
In January of this year, the federal government extended the public health emergency (PHE) declaration due to the COVID-19 pandemic by 90 days, which means it is set to expire on April 16 of this year. At this time, it is unclear if the PHE will still be lifted on April 16 and whether or not it will affect policies surrounding the requirement of vaccinations or negative COVID-19 tests when Americans travel back into the U.S.
The Bottom Line
Be sure to bring a mask with you if you plan on visiting any U.S. airport or will be traveling using any type of public transportation to, from, or within the United States through April 18, 2022.