As the spring break season begins and travelers depart on getaways, questions have surfaced about the nation's public transportation mask mandate, including how long it will remain in place, despite a dramatic drop in COVID-19 metrics nationwide.
Citing a recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday, the Transportation Security Administration announced the extension of its mask requirement on public transportation for one month, through April 18.
Under the mandate, face coverings will continue to be required on buses, trains and airplanes as well as at transportation facilities.
A day prior to the announcement, the TSA assured flyers that it is ready for increased travel volume during spring break, also noting "we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel as demonstrated by the rapid recovery of the travel industry."
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In a press release, the agency listed travel tips for the "fastest and most efficient" checkpoint experience, which includes abiding by the mask requirement.
According to the TSA, during the one-month extension period, the CDC "will work with government agencies to help inform a revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required..."
The mask requirement has remained in place even after the CDC announced a shift in COVID-19 guidance late last month, saying most Americans are safe without a mask in indoor settings.
As of last Thursday, the CDC said more than 98% percent of Americans can safely remove face coverings indoors as they reside in areas deemed low COVID transmission.
Following the TSA's announcement to extend the transportation mask mandate, the U.S. Travel Association called on the Biden administration to "urgently" send a "clear message" that it's safe to travel again, particularly for vaccinated individuals.
“The travel industry continues to be challenged with a slow economic recovery even with improved public health metrics in the U.S. and medical advancements, especially in the business and international travel segments," CEO Roger Dow said in a news release.
The agency also asked the Biden administration to "help normalize travel conditions" by repealing both the mask mandate and pre-departure testing requirements for vaccinated international inbound air travelers.