Transportation Department Must Require Airports, Airlines to Implement Mask Wearing Mandates

Public Citizen and 22 Other Groups Urge Department to Issue Emergency Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) should immediately grant a petition for an emergency rule that would require all air carriers and airports to mandate the wearing of masks for all persons inside of airports and airplanes at all times, Public Citizen and 22 other groups said today in a letter to the agency.

The emergency rule requested by FlyersRights.org — the largest non-profit airline consumer organization — is a simple, commonsense measure for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 among airplane passengers and crew members, airport workers, and other airport visitors, the groups wrote.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and sitting within six feet of others, sometimes for hours, may increase the risk of being infected with the disease. CDC guidelines also recommend that everyone wear a cloth mask over their nose and mouth, especially during travel, and that masks “are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting.”

“Federal guidelines that only recommend mask-wearing at all times at airports and on airplanes are not sufficient,” said Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. “This critical preventative public health measure must be mandated by enforceable federal regulations that apply to all airlines and airports.”

The letter notes limited exclusions should be made for children under two-year-old and anyone who has a medical condition that causes trouble breathing among other medical reasons.

Read the letter here.