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U.S. poised to extend transit mask mandate through May 3 -Breaking


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: JetBlue Terminal 5 in New York’s JFK International airport, New York (USA), November 16th, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

By David Shepardson

(Reuters] -President Joe Biden’s Administration plans to increase by 15 days a U.S. order requiring passengers to wear masks in airplanes and trains. Two sources familiar with the matter informed Reuters.

These requirements have been in force since February 2021 and will expire on April 18. A surge in COVID-19 case numbers would mean that the latest extension of requirements would allow them to continue through April 18. An official announcement is anticipated for Wednesday.

An anonymous person familiar with the situation noted an increase in COVID-19-related cases. Sources said that the extension would allow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assess “the potential impact, and the death and hospitalization rates, of this increase in COVID-19 cases.”

Republican legislators and industry groups want the White House immediately to end its 14-month-old mask policy.

Airlines for America (a trade association) on Wednesday urged Biden’s administration in a letter to “lean into science, research, and which clearly support lifting of the mask mandate.” … Masks should not be required on planes, but they aren’t recommended for places such as bars and restaurants.

In February, the CDC relaxed its guidelines for facial coverings and says that nearly all Americans live in areas where masks are not required indoors.

The U.S. Senate voted 57 to 40 last month in favor of overturning the public order requiring masks on public transportation. Biden was threatened with a veto.

Sometimes friction has been caused by the masking requirements on U.S. aircrafts. Federal Aviation Administration reported that there had been 7,060 incidents involving passengers since January 2021. The majority of them involved violating masking rules.

While the Administration is looking at lifting restrictions that foreign visitors must pass a COVID-19 negative test within 24 hours of their arrival, since many countries no longer have such requirements, they are not immediately taking action. United States require that all foreign passengers flying in the United States are vaccinated.