The central square
(The Center Square) — A group of 10 major airlines is now calling on President Joe Biden to lift the federal transit mask mandate, one of the last remaining mask mandates in the country.
Industry group Airlines for America sent a letter to the White House saying rules like the mask mandate “no longer make sense.”
“Our industry has leaned into science at every turn. Initially, we voluntarily put policies and procedures in place – mandating the wearing of face coverings; requiring passenger health acknowledgments and research information contacts and improve cleaning protocols – to form a multi-layered approach to mitigating risk and prioritizing passenger and employee well-being,” the letter reads. “However, much has changed since these measures have been imposed and they no longer make sense in the current public health context.
The letter was signed by the leaders of the main companies, namely Alaska Air Group, American Airlines, Atlas Air Worldwide, Delta Air Lines, FedEx Express, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines Holdings and UPS Airlines. They pointed to the decreasing severity of the pandemic.
“The high level of immunity in the United States, the availability of high-quality masks for those who wish to use them, hospital-grade cabin air, the widespread availability of vaccines, and newly available therapies provide a solid foundation to the administration to lift the mask mandate and pre-departure testing requirements,” the letter read. “We urge you to do so now. We are asking for this action not only for the benefit of the traveling public, but also for the thousands of airline employees tasked with enforcing a patchwork of today’s outdated regulations put in place. implemented in response to COVID-19.
The request comes after the Transportation Security Administration raised eyebrows with its recent decision to extend its mask mandate for planes, trains and airports until April 18.
“Upon the recommendation of the CDC, the TSA will extend the safety guideline for mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs by one month, through April 18,” the TSA said. “During this time, the CDC will work with government agencies to help inform a revised policy framework outlining when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor. This revised framework will be based on COVID-19 community levels, the risk of new variants, national data and the latest scientific findings. We will publicly communicate all updates if and/or when they change.
The TSA’s decision has sparked controversy in part because U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials said in February that masks are no longer necessary for the majority of Americans.
“We want to give people a break from things like mask-wearing…” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in the February announcement.
Local and state governments across the country have dropped mask mandates in even the strictest areas.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced a measure that passed the Senate that would overturn the TSA rule through the Congressional Review Act, which gives Congress the power to overrule executive rules by simple majority vote, usually within 60 days. of their creation.
“…the Senate said enough was enough and sent a message to unelected government bureaucrats to end the state’s anti-science and nanny requirement for travel mask mandates,” a said Paul, who is a doctor. “Since March 2020, unelected bureaucrats have repeatedly said we should ‘follow the science’. But the same bureaucrats continue to defy the science by imposing an ineffective and restrictive mask mandate for people traveling by public transit and plane. As the entire world learns to live with COVID, the federal government is still using fear to stubbornly perpetuate its mandates, rather than giving lucid, rational advice on how best to protect against the disease. That is why I forced this vote, and I commend the Senate for rejecting this nonsense.