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.

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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.

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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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