The TSA’s Mask Mandate Is Just As Logical As All Its Other Arbitrary Impositions

Federal rule that air travelers must wear masks was established by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). It is due to end this Friday. TSA extended the requirements for at least one month because it was more difficult to comprehend than the original purpose of the mask mandate.

That is saying a lot, because the scientific justification for the TSA’s rule has always been weak, given that the conditions on airplanes are not conducive to COVID-19 transmission. Because commercial airplanes have HEPA filters, they can mix indoor air with HEPA filters, limiting airflow between rows. These ventilation systems help to explain why commercial flight outbreaks were rare before the advent of vaccines.

“The risk of contracting COVID-19 during air travel is low,” an October 2020 article in The Journal of the American Medical Association noted. “Despite the large number of passengers, there are very few cases of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 transmissions between travelers around the globe.”

Sebastian Hoehl (researcher at Institute for Medical Virology, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany) agreed to an interview Scientific American the following month. He observed that an airplane cabin was probably the safest place you could be.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly reiterated that point during a Senate hearing last December. Kelly stated, “I believe the case against masks is very strong.” It is safer and more durable than any indoor environment.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker agreed. He stated, “An airplane is the most safe place you could be.” “It’s true of all of our aircraft—they all have the same HEPA filters and airflow.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on February 25, stopped recommending indoor masking for areas of the United States that it deemed to be “low” or medium risk. This area covered over 98% of Americans as of last week. According to the CDC, then, it is safe to dispense with masks in stores, churches, schools, bars, and restaurants—environments where the risk of virus transmission is much higher than it is on airplanes.

TSA claimed that the TSA extended its mask rule at CDC’s request so it could prepare a new policy framework based on the latest science. Mask rules for transportation are complicated, said Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, because people are “moving from one zone to another”—an explanation that makes little sense when virtually the entire country is in the same “zone” as far as the CDC’s mask advice goes.

TSA’s mandatory mask has caused a lot of unpleasantness and prompted a rise in the number of disputes between passengers and flight attendants. Every obnoxious passenger that moons, berates or otherwise offends the TSA, there are a few things you can do to help. assaults the mandate’s enforcers, there are many others who quietly resent this thinly justified imposition, especially when it compels them to force masks on recalcitrant toddlers.

That expectation is especially difficult to justify, since the risk to children from COVID-19 is infinitesimal even if they are not vaccinated—smaller than the risk of dying in a car crash if their parents decide to avoid mask hassles by driving instead of flying. Adult travellers can, however, protect themselves by getting vaccinated. They also have the option of wearing well-fitting, high-quality masks, no matter what others are doing.

However, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), urged TSA to keep the mask rule. AFA’s passion for hygiene theatre is in line with their enthusiasm for security theater. In 2005, when TSA allowed passengers to carry short screws and small scissors, AFA warned that the aisles would be “running with blood.”

The calmer heads won in that instance. Even though it has been more than twenty years since 9/11, Americans still have to abide by a multitude of nonsensical restrictions. Just the most recent example is the mask rule.

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