December 4, 2023

Passengers, almost all with face masks, board an American Airlines flight to Charlotte on May 3, 2020 in New York City.

Eleonore Sens | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden signed an ordinance on Thursday requiring masks to be worn on planes, trains, buses, and airports as coronavirus infections continue to rise.

The Trump administration declined to use masks for air travel and other transportation, leaving private companies to set their own guidelines, despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention having repeatedly recommended their use.

That left flight attendants and other staff to enforce the rules. Unions pushing for a federal mask mandate cheered Biden’s orders.

“What a difference leadership makes! We applaud President Biden’s nationwide approach to fighting the virus and getting out of this pandemic,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the country’s largest flight attendants union. in a statement. “Today’s action by the executive regarding a mask mandate for interstate travel, including airports and airplanes, will provide much-needed support to flight attendants and aviation workers on the front lines.

Julie Hedrick, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American Airlines cabin crews, also welcomed the move.

“As passengers travel on different airlines and through different airports, they deserve clear expectations of the rules. We thank President Biden for addressing this immediately,” she said in a statement.

All major US airlines require travelers to wear masks on board – a policy that extends to airports. Airline executives say the vast majority of customers follow the rule, but they vow to take a tough line against those who refuse. In the past week, airlines banned more than 2,500 people from flying for refusing to wear face covers. The FAA noted that some rare cases have even turned violent.

The FAA warned earlier this month to crack down on recalcitrant behavior and travelers who fail to follow instructions from the crew and fined those travelers up to $ 35,000.

Air travelers, including citizens, are recently required to show a negative Covid-19 test result before flying to the U.S. from overseas, Biden ordered, reiterating a CDC policy revealed last week. This rule takes effect on Tuesday.

Biden said travelers would have to self-quarantine upon arrival.