The Transportation Security Administration is extending the mask mandate on public transportation until April 18, which will cover much of the busy spring break travel season.
That means masks will be required in airports, on planes and trains and other forms of mass transportation despite updated CDC guidance that says most Americans no longer need to wear a mask in public.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will work with government agencies to help inform a revised policy framework for when the mask rules can be lifted during this time, said the official.
The TSA on Wednesday released a statement saying it was bracing for a busy Spring Break travel period and is anticipating average daily passenger levels to surpass 90% of pre-pandemic levels for the duration of March.
The TSA was set to lift the requirement on March 18.
Trade groups sent a letter to the White House earlier this week, urging the end of the mask mandate and other COVID-19 travel restrictions.
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The requirement has remained in place even after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a shift in COVID-19 guidance late last month, saying most Americans are safe without a mask in indoor settings.
Trade groups such as the U.S. Travel Association, American Hotel and Lodging Association and Airlines for America sent a letter to White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zeintz following the CDC announcement, urging the Biden administration to lift the mask mandate by its planned date and end other COVID travel restrictions.
In the letter, the groups said ending travel advisories, repealing the federal mask mandate and working with other countries to end travel restrictions are crucial to restoring the U.S. economy and workforce.
"Effective, risk-based policies can be reinstated at any time if new variants of concern emerge or the public health situation deteriorates," the letter read, in part. "It is now time for the administration to lead the country towards a new normal for travel and on a faster path to a full and even economic recovery."