On Thursday, just one day after being sworn into office, President Biden signed an executive order requiring face masks to be worn by travelers on airplanes, trains, buses and airports. The order comes as Covid-19 cases continue to surge across the country.
The Trump administration declined to require face masks within the travel industry, leaving it up to the private companies to choose their own policies. Not having a required mask mandate has left flight attendants and other employees to enforce the rules. Labor unions that have wanted a mask mandate were thankful for Biden’s order.
“What a difference leadership makes! We welcome President Biden’s nationwide approach to crushing the virus and lifting us out of this pandemic,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, known as the country’s largest flight attendant labor union. “Today’s executive action on a mask mandate for interstate travel, including airports and planes, will provide much needed back up for Flight Attendants and aviation workers on the frontlines.”
Julie Hendrick, the president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, also spoke out in appreciation for the mandate.
“As passagers travel on different airlines and through various airports, the deserve to have a clear expectation on what the rules are. We thank President Biden for seeing to this immediately,” stated Hendrick.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants represent American Airline cabin crews.
Since the start of the pandemic, all major U.S. airlines have required travelers to wear a face mask while on airplanes and inside airports, per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention continuous recommendations. Airline executives report that the vast majority of travelers have followed the rule yet they plan on cracking down on those who refuse. Just last week, airlines prohibited over 2,500 people from flying due to the refusal to wear a face mask. The FAA reported rare cases that became violent.
With the new order in place, the FAA gave notice they will crack down on any disorderly behavior and anyone who refuses to follow crew instructions. This strict approach also comes with the potential for a fine of up to $35,000.
Biden is also rolling out an order that will require all travelers flying to the U.S. from abroad to show a recent negative Covid-19 test results. This rule will take effect beginning next Tuesday.