The number of COVID-19-related deaths, illnesses, and cases has rapidly declined across the U.S. But the Transportation Security Administration still won’t allow passengers to remove their masks from planes, subways, trains and buses.
Although the March 18 deadline was expected to see the end of public transportation’s mask mandate, TSA has decided to extend it for at most one month. This is on the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NPR reports that federal officials in health are working to revise the policy framework regarding when and how masks may be needed within public transport corridors.
While the extension currently in effect will expire on April 18, it is not guaranteed that it will be the last.
It would not be unreasonable for commuters and passengers to remove their masks right away, contrary to the TSA’s and CDC views. Mask mandates at this stage are arbitrarily imposed. It is not scientifically possible to forcibly cover young children in schools, but also subway riders, restaurant patrons and library visitors. Or airline passengers, but not Congress members. Our senior president, senators and other officials of the administration were almost completely unmasked during the State of the Union. It is not healthy for government planners to make up health policies.
The heads of several airlines presented evidence before Congress in December that their air filtration systems are superior to those used in hospitals intensive care units. Gary Kelly (CEO of Southwest Airlines) stated, “I believe that the case for masks doesn’t support much in the aircraft cabin environment.” “It’s very safe, and it is of a very high standard compared with any other indoor setting.”
A few days later, White House coronavirus advisor Anthony Fauci said that he thought people should wear masks on airplanes for… forever, essentially. “I think when you’re dealing with a closed space, even though the filtration is good, that you want to go that extra step when you have people—you know, you get a flight from Washington to San Francisco, it’s well over a five-hour flight,” he said. Even though your filtration system is excellent, masks should still be used.
Passengers who wish to have extra protection are allowed to continue wearing masks. Others might find masks annoying rather than useful. For parents with small children, this is especially true. They may have trouble keeping their child on the plane for extended flights. They are frustrated to learn that the TSA mandates flight attendants vigorously enforce this directive.
It’s enough. The TSA is not accustomed to relaxing its overly broad and poorly thought-out infringements on travelers’ civil liberties—20 years after 9/11, we still remove our shoes and belts before setting foot in the terminal, even though this cumbersome process doesn’t make anyone safer—but it’s long past time to ease up on masks (and all the other ridiculous safety measures too).