Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) announced his intention to introduce a bill to “ban the sale of middle seats through this pandemic” after posting a picture of his experience on a crowded flight this week.
Merkley on Thursday posted a picture on social media of what appeared to be a packed flight, writing, “@AmericanAir: how many Americans will die bc you fill middle seats, w/ your customers shoulder to shoulder, hour after hour.”
“This is incredibly irresponsible. People eat & drink on planes & must take off masks to do so. No way you aren’t facilitating spread of COVID infections,” he said:
“A lot of folks reacted to my tweet yesterday about the irresponsible sale of middle seats on planes saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if someone in the Senate did something about it?’ They’re right,” Merkley said on Friday.
“I will introduce a bill to ban the sale of middle seats through this pandemic. And I’ll work with colleagues to include it in a package of airline accountability reforms they are crafting,” the senator announced:
Merkley’s announcement comes as coronavirus cases continue to grow nationwide as testing increases and states continue in reopening sectors of their economies.
The Trump administration has since issued guidance to airlines, advising them to mandate face coverings for travelers “as well as employ social distancing measures and minimize in-person interactions to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.”
The Departments of Transportation, Health and Human Services and Homeland Security issued the guidelines Thursday recommending airlines and airports to adopt public health measures as airlines increase flights in the United States amid the reopening of the U.S. economy.
The document consists of 11 guidelines, including the use of masks or cloth face coverings for all above the age of two.
“Airlines and airports are strongly encouraged to require that everyone correctly wear a mask or cloth face covering in shared spaces,” the document said, explaining exceptions should be put in place for those who suffer from a medical condition that causes them trouble breathing.
The U.S. reported over 2.7 million cases of the virus as of Saturday morning.