As COVID-19 cases see an uptick across the U.S., including in and around Chicago, the Biden administration announced the nationwide mask requirement for public transportation systems will be extended for two weeks.
The requirement to wear a mask on airplanes, in airports and on buses and trains was set to expire on April 18. It will now extend through May 3, 2022.
The Transportation Security Administration is expected to formally announce the extension "soon," two officials told NBC News.
According to the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a mask is still required on public transportation, such as Chicago Transit Authority's buses and trains, Metra lines, Amtrak and airplanes.
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Ride-share vehicles, including taxis, Ubers and Lyfts, also continue to require masks during travel, and will issue a penalty for customers without a face covering.
As of Feb. 25, the CDC said students are not required to wear masks on buses operated by public and private schools, aligning with updated guidance that lifted a face covering mandate in the classroom.
While inside public transportation, as well as transportation hubs, people can take off a mask only amid the following circumstances:
- While eating, drinking or taking medicine for limited periods of time
- While briefly communicating with someone who is hearing impaired
- While using an oxygen mask on a flight
- If unconscious
- To verify identify, such as during a Transportation Security Administration screening
- While experiencing shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Last month, 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."
The mask requirement has remained in place even after the CDC announced a shift in COVID-19 guidance in late February, saying most Americans are safe without a mask in indoor settings.