United Airlines announced Tuesday that it will strengthen its mandatory mask policy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to both passengers and crew members.
Starting June 18, any passenger that does not comply with United's required onboard mask policy will be placed on an "internal travel restriction list," where customers will lose travel privileges for a duration of time.
"Every reputable heath institution says wearing a mask is one of the most effective things people can do to protect others from contracting COVID-19, especially in places like an aircraft where social distancing is a challenge," United's Chief Customer Officer Toby Enqvist said.
United has been requiring flyers to wear a mask onboard all aircrafts, except when eating or drinking, since May 4. Enqvist said the company has been pleased with the majority of passengers complying.
"Today's announcement is an unmistakable signal that we're prepared to take serious steps, if necessary, to protect our customers and crew," Enqvist said.
The only exceptions to United's mask policy are individuals with a medical condition or a disability where they cannot wear a face covering; those who cannot put on or remove a face covering themselves; and small children.
In addition to requiring masks, United said that the company's planes have HEPA grade filters that recirculate air every two to three minutes. The airline also uses electrostatic sprayers to disinfect the cabin before flights.
United has implemented other safety procedures including offering touchless check-in for baggage at more than 200 locations, asking customers to complete a health assessment at check-in, installing sneeze guards and adjusting the boarding process.