Mask rule for airline passengers will remain in effect into January, TSA says

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Travelers enter a new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening area during the opening of the Terminal 1 expansion at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on June 4, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. – – The terminal expansion is part of a $477.5 million infrastructure project to expand passenger capacity including security screening, baggage, and a future connection to the Automated People Mover (APM) train system. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal officials are extending into January a requirement that people on airline flights and public transportation wear face masks to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The Transportation Security Administration’s current order was scheduled to expire Sept. 13. An agency spokesman said Tuesday that the mandate will be extended until Jan. 18.

The TSA briefed airline industry representatives on its plan Tuesday.

The mask mandate has been controversial and has led to many encounters between passengers who don’t want to wear a mask and flight attendants asked to enforce the rule. The extension, however, was not surprising after a recent surge in COVID-19 cases linked to the delta variant of the virus.

The rule also applies to travelers on public transportation including trains, subways and buses.

In recent days, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines have reported that the increase in coronavirus infections has caused a slump in bookings beyond the usual slowdown that occurs near the end of each summer.

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