TSA Authorized to Fine Travelers Who Ignore Mask Requirement

People gather their luggage after arriving at Miami International Airport on a plane from New York on February 01, 2021 in Miami, Florida. An executive order signed by U.S. President Joe Biden last week mandates mask-wearing on federal property and on public transportation as part of his plan to combat …
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Transportation Security Administration announced their ability and intent to penalize airline passengers who refuse to wear masks while traveling.

The Transportation Security Administration announced plans to inhibit passengers who flout President Biden’s January 21 executive order on “Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel” in “airports, bus and rail stations, as well as while on passenger aircraft, public transportation, passenger railroads, and over-the-road buses operating on scheduled fixed-routes” in a Sunday press release.

Outlining the requirements in detail, the TSA said:

Whether beginning the security screening process at the airport Travel Document Checker (TDC) or submitting checked baggage for screening, all passengers who appear to be over the age of 2 must properly wear a face mask throughout the security screening process. The officer at the TDC will request that travelers temporarily lower the mask to verify their identity. Those who approach the TDC without a mask will be asked to wear or obtain one to proceed.

As of Tuesday, the TSA will refuse entry and/or boarding to those unwilling to comply with the mandate, and may even include additional penalties. “Depending on the circumstance, those who refuse a mask may be subject to a civil penalty for attempting to circumvent screening requirements, interfering with screening personnel, or a combination of those offenses,” the TSA said. Further, they specified what compliance looks like:

According to the CDC Order, face masks should cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides without gaps. Masks can be either manufactured or homemade and should be a solid piece of material without slits, exhalation valves, or punctures. While medical masks and N-95 respirators fulfill CDC and TSA’s requirements, face shields and/or goggles are not an acceptable substitute for the use of a mask; however, they may be used in addition to an acceptable mask.

“TSA will fully comply with the President’s Executive Orders, CDC guidance and the DHS National Emergency determination to ensure healthy and secure travel across all transportation sectors. This will help prevent further spread of COVID-19 and encourage a unified government response,” said Darby LaJoye, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the TSA Administrator. “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.”

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