Transit mask mandate to remain through Sept. 13

May 3, 2021
Air and transit customers subject to the face mask requirement face minimum $250 penalty for noncompliance.

Air and transit users and employees will be required to wear face coverings through Sept. 13, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said on Friday. The requirement extends a mandate for individuals using airports, commercial aircraft, over-the-road buses, commuter bus and rail systems to properly wear face coverings that was set to expire on May 11.

“The federal mask requirement throughout the transportation system seeks to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” said Darby LaJoye, the senior official performing the duties of the TSA Administrator. “Right now, about half of all adults have at least one vaccination shot and masks remain an important tool in defeating this pandemic. We will continue to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to evaluate the need for these directives and recognize the significant level of compliance thus far.”

The requirement to use face coverings originally went into effect on Feb. 1. President Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring mask usage on travel modes shortly after taking office in January and the CDC issued an order in late January outlining the mask requirements for people using modes of surface transportation, as well as employees.

As of May 1, the CDC reports more than 31 percent of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated. While the CDC has revised its guidance concerning outdoor activities for fully vaccinated people, it still recommends the use of face coverings for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people for indoor activities, such as riding public transit. The face mask recommendations are in addition to maintaining physical distance from non-household members and maintaining good hand washing practices.

TSA notes the extension of the face mask requirement on air and transit modes is consistent with CDC guidance. While the date of enforcement is extended, TSA explains all other aspects of the requirements, including exemptions and civil penalties, remain unchanged. Civil penalties for not being in compliance with the face covering requirement begin at $250 and can increase to as much as $1,500 for repeat offenders.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.