Home Travel So THAT’S Why There’s No Federal Mandate To Wear Masks On Planes!

So THAT’S Why There’s No Federal Mandate To Wear Masks On Planes!

by SharonKurheg

If you follow the science, you know that wearing a face mask is one of the best ways to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. That’s especially true if there’s no way to remain socially distant from others.

It took the airlines months to finally come up with policies that force their passengers to properly wear appropriate face masks  on planes. Most people are, thankfully, compliant, either because they agree it’s for safety, or at least are willing to follow the rules. However you’ll sometimes have that one person who just won’t wear one. Some of them have been removed from planes before they even take off. But once they’re in the air, flight attendants can only encourage up to a certain point. The only recourse airlines have for these people who refuse to wear a mask is add them to their Do Not Fly list for future flights. To date, hundreds of people have been added to the airlines’ respective lists.

Multiple organizations and individuals, including those that represent consumer groups, public health officials, airline employee unions and members of Congress, have said there need to be enforceable federal rules that are consistent across the air travel industry to minimize the risk for transmission of the virus. They’ve all asked the federal government to intervene and make some sort of law to require mask use.

But the best they’ve gotten from Departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, and Health and Human Services are a list of guidelines that use nambly pambly wambly words like “encouragement.” So to clarify that, according to the federal government, you’re required to wear a seat belt on a plane for safety (which people do, because it being a law, in and of itself, makes it a deterrent), and are not allowed to smoke due to safety (again, most people comply), but are only encouraged to wear a mask. That’s a big, potentially dangerous difference.

But  now we know why.

The New York Times recently wrote this piece:

The White House Blocked The C.D.C. From Requiring Masks On Public Transportation

According to the NYT, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) drafted an order in September that required, “all passengers and employees to wear masks on all forms of public and commercial transportation in the United States.”

The order, according to two federal health officials who wanted to remain anonymous, would have required people to wear appropriate facial coverings on any public or commercial transportation, such as airplanes, trains, buses and subways, as well as in transit hubs such as airports, train stations and bus depots.

It had been written under the agency’s “quarantine powers” and was supported by Alex M. Azar II the secretary of health and human services. If put into place, the orders would have been the toughest federal mandate on record to help curb COVID-19.

So what happened with it? The White House Coronavirus Task Force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, refused to even discuss the idea.

According to a task force official, “The approach the task force has taken with any mask mandate is, the response in New York City is different than Montana, or Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Local and state authorities need to determine the best approach for their responsive effort depending on how the coronavirus is impacting their area.”

So the United States Department of State task force that’s supposed to “coordinate and oversee the administration’s efforts to monitor, prevent, contain, and mitigate the spread” of coronavirus disease won’t mandate the simplest thing that could prevent, contain and mitigate the spread of the disease while on the country’s transportation services.

Sigh. You guys, I just can’t even.

The United States still leads the world in coronavirus cases, with a full 25% or more of the world’s total number of cases and deaths. According to John Hopkins University of Medicine, there is coronavirus in every single state, and cases have occurred in all but the least inhabited counties of every one of them.

Whether you’re in Tuscaloosa or New York City, you may not know if the person next to you on the bus has coronavirus and is asymptomatic or was just recently infected and just won’t start showing symptoms until tomorrow; either way, they’re contagious. An airline has no “state” to answer to – it’s a private entity that’s trying to (A) keep its passengers safe and (B) show those who are still afraid to fly how safe they are.

I have no words. No, wait – I do have one word.


Feature Photo: David Woo / flickr

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#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary



WR2 October 10, 2020 - 1:05 pm

Airlines already require masks. Why do you think we need a federal mandate? The problem with the federal government intervening is #1 Who is going to enforce? Are we going to have mask marshalls? FAs are not federal agents. #2 If it’s a law, it’s hard to undo when it is appropriate. And any law going through congress would have a lot of pork and wasteful spending tacked onto it as well #3 Or did you want the administrative branch to just make up laws by themselves, and bypass congress? Anything Trump does unilaterally will get an immediate lawsuit, just as has happened the last 4 years.

So exactly what problem are you thinking you are solving? Mask compliance is already happening, and when they don’t comply, they get kicked off. So save your indignant attitude…and perhaps ask yourself why Dems blame Trump for everything virus related, while decrying the initial travel shutdowns to China and Europe as an “overreaction”, refusing to blame China for unleashing this on the world and hiding the true nature of the virus for many weeks, and demanding from the outset the authority at the local and state level to implement their own policies. If you want local authority, you can’t blame the Feds, simple as that.

SharonKurheg October 10, 2020 - 1:25 pm

Airlines require masks but there’s no backbone to the requirement. At best, they can ban them from flying again. Big deal…they’ll go to another airline.

As I said in the post, seat belts and no smoking are also federal mandates. That, in and of itself, makes people more apt to comply. I live in Florida, where we never had a state mandate for masks. But when our county made one, I saw customers in our local supermarket go from about 50% compliance to 95%.

“Put your mask on or we will radio officials to be waiting for you when we land” holds a lot more water than, “Put your mask on or you can’t fly on Delta until this is over.”

You mentioned a whole lot about politics in your comment. Public safety shouldn’t be political.

Mike October 10, 2020 - 7:20 pm

Your *vote* comment seems political. What exactly did you mean with that comment? This surely shouldn’t be the primary issue in your decision about who to vote for.
In any case, this type of rule is not enforceable due to the fact that people can eat and drink on planes. Who is going to decide whether I can sip 10 coffees or one? I could snack on nuts the entire trip or eat my dinner very slowly.
There are very few instances of folks not wearing masks and airlines can put them on no fly lists from then on. It would be far more efficient if the airlines coordinated and banned that passenger from all other lines, than get the government involved. We don’t need the government to mandate what type of masks, how long you can eat, etc.
this is not like smoking or seatbelts. Those are binary choices. Masks go on and off during the trip for eating and drinking. Having mask marshals with stop watches isn’t the answer.
What if someone was wearing the mask improperly or pulled it down to cough into their hand as Biden did the other day. Will they be fined? How would you prove this? Have cameras all over the plane? Unless you ban food and drink, it’s not enforceable. And the government would set up another agency that would be impossible to remove once there is a vaccine.

Charles October 10, 2020 - 4:28 pm

Yeah, a lot of cases of the virus but how many people are actually sick?!? You Never hear those numbers because they don’t j keep you scared….

SharonKurheg October 10, 2020 - 7:17 pm

We’ve got 200,000+ dead, and who knows how many people with long term neurological, cardiac and pulmonary issues. They want to keep you scared because those are scary numbers and even scarier long term disabilities.

AlohaDaveKennedy October 10, 2020 - 6:08 pm

Unfortunately public safety and public welfare are political or how else do you explain $100,000 in Lincoln Arts Center funding in the past COVID stimulus bill? It is impossible to enforce any federal public safety mandate four years into an undeclared civil war. Whatever Republicans propose the DAGA will fight and whatever the Democrats propose the RAGA will fight. Time to just dump the presidency and offer the kingship to Harry? After all, Harry may have a farther claim to American ancestry (back to grandpa Augustine Warner II b. 1642, Warner Hall estate, Gloucester County, Virginia), than any of our Presidential and Vice Presidential choices.

Billy Bob October 11, 2020 - 8:57 pm

Keep the politics out. It’s real simple.


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