Starting February 2, 2021, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will require individuals to wear a mask at TSA airport screening checkpoints and throughout “commercial and public transportation systems.”
This requirement is a provision of President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel and will remain in effect until May 11, 2021.
Travelers will be required to wear face masks when they are in airports, bus, and train stations, as well as while on passenger aircraft, public transportation, passenger railroads, and over-the-road buses.
“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, in a press release. “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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Passengers without a mask may be denied entry to the airport, boarding, or continued transport. Failure to comply with the mask requirement can result in fines.
The only times that masks may be lowered are when officers at the Travel Document Checker (TDC) request that travelers temporarily lower the mask to verify their identity. Passengers who refuse to wear a mask will not be permitted to enter the secure area of the airport, which includes the terminal and gate area.
According to the CDC, face masks should cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides without gaps. They can be either manufactured or homemade and should be a solid piece of material without slits, exhalation valves, or punctures.
Those exempt from wearing a mask include travelers under the age of 2 years old, those with disabilities that prevent them from wearing masks, and those who would be at risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty by wearing a face covering.