The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued an update to their "Executive Order regarding face masks at airport security checkpoints and throughout the transportation network," now outlining financial consequences for anyone unwilling to comply.
In the update to the Jan. 31 order — which read, in part, that the group would "require individuals to wear a mask at TSA airport screening checkpoints and throughout the commercial and public transportation systems" effective Feb. 2 through at least May 11, amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis — TSA added that they would "recommend a fine ranging from $250 for the first offense up to $1,500 for repeat offenders."
"Based on substantial aggravating or mitigating factors, TSA may seek a sanction amount that falls outside these ranges," they added.
A senior official performing the duties of the TSA administrator, Darby LaJoye, said in the original statement that they would "fully comply" with President Joe Biden's executive orders, as well as Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
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Joe Biden Says He Will Ask the Public to Wear Masks During His First 100 Days in Office
"As we continue to experience impacts from this pandemic, we are committed to this measure as the right thing to do for the TSA workforce, for our industry stakeholders and for passengers," LaJoye added.
TSA went on to outline "exemptions" to the mask rule, including for travelers under 2 years old and "those with a disability who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask because of the disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act."
According to multiple outlets including The Points Guy, the TSA said, "This is a narrow exception that includes a person with a disability who cannot wear a mask for reasons related to the disability … it is not meant to cover persons for whom mask-wearing may only be difficult."
They even provided some examples of those who may be exempt including someone who "[does] not understand how to remove their mask due to cognitive impairment" or "cannot remove a mask on their own due to dexterity/mobility impairments."
Aside from following TSA and CDC laws and guidelines, travelers should understand individual airlines' policies when it comes to mask-wearing, and read them thoroughly before buying a ticket. All major U.S. airlines currently require mask-wearing for the safety of the flight crew and other passengers.
TSA's action comes shortly after Biden, 78, issued an executive order requiring mask-wearing during flights, saying in part, "Put simply, masks and other public health measures reduce the spread of the disease, particularly when communities make widespread use of such measures, and thus save lives."
The newly sworn-in 46th president previously stated that he would ask the American public to wear masks during his first 100 days in office, and later, scolded Congress members who refused to wear masks while hiding during the failed insurrection attempt at the Capitol last month, two weeks before Biden's inauguration.
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