Biden signs order requiring travelers to wear face masks on planes and at airports as pandemic rages on

The passengers, almost all wearing face masks, board an American Airlines flight to Charlotte on May 3, 2020, in New York City.

Eleonore Sens | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Thursday signed an executive order requiring masks to be worn on planes, trains, buses and at airports as coronavirus infections continue to rise.

The Trump administration has refused to impose masks for air travel and other modes of transportation, leaving private companies to set their own policies, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has repeatedly recommended their use.

This left the flight attendants and other employees to enforce the rules. Unions that pushed for a federal mask mandate applauded Biden’s order.

“What a difference leadership makes! We applaud President Biden’s national approach to crush the virus and get us out of this pandemic,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the world’s largest union. flight attendants of the country, in a statement. declaration. “Today’s executive action on a mask mandate for interstate travel, including airports and airplanes, will provide much needed support to flight attendants and aviation workers on the front lines.

Julie Hedrick, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents cabin crews at American Airlines, also applauded the decision.

“Passengers traveling on different airlines and at various airports deserve to have clear expectations about the rules. We thank President Biden for ensuring this immediately,” she said in a statement.

All major U.S. airlines require travelers to wear masks on board – a policy that extends to airports. Airlines executives say the vast majority of customers follow the rule, but they have vowed to take a hard line against those who refuse. Over the past week, airlines have banned more than 2,500 people from flying for refusing to cover their faces. The FAA noted that some rare cases even turned violent.

The FAA this month warned it would crack down on unruly behavior and travelers who do not follow crew instructions, fining those travelers up to $ 35,000.

Air travelers, including citizens, will also need to show a recent negative Covid-19 test result before traveling to the United States from overseas, Biden ordered, reiterating a CDC policy unveiled last week. This rule comes into effect on Tuesday.

Biden said travelers should self-quarantine upon arrival.

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