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US regulator extends travel mask mandate for 2 additional weeks

*The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discloses the American country is ‘not quite ready’ to lift its travel mask mandate

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has decided that the American country is not quite ready to lift its travel mask mandate.

It was learnt that the health regulatory agency  is extending the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) mask requirement for all transportation networks through May 3, 2022 – two weeks longer than it was set to expire – over concerns of a Coronavirus surge spurred by the BA.2 subvariant, which has proven to spread quickly in the US.

Report indicates the TSA mask mandate for travel stipulates that consumers must wear a mask while on trains, buses, rail systems, airplanes, and at airports.

The CDC said in a statement: “In order to assess the potential impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalisations and deaths, and healthcare system capacity, the CDC Order will remain in place at this time.

“At CDC’s recommendation, TSA will extend the security directive and emergency amendment for 15 days, through May 3, 2022.”

Despite the short extension, there is no guarantee that May 3 is the definitive end to the mask mandate.

Earlier in a media briefing delivered Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended the CDC’s move, and said the two extra  weeks would give officials more time to assess the potential impact of the BA.2 subvariant.

Psaki said the CDC would determine what the next steps will be at the end of the two-week extension.

Masking up no longer practical ─US Travel Association reacts

Reacting to the extension, the US Travel Association, however, expressed its displeasure with the authorities’ move in this regard.

“Travellers and the travel industry need to hear firm plans to navigate the endemic environment in which the public and practically all other industries are now operating, particularly as the CDC no longer recommends masks for the overwhelming majority of the US population,” Executive Vice-President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes told us.

Barnes stated: “With all of the tools now available to mitigate the virus, it is time for the administration to set a clear end date for federal requirements on mask usage as well as pre-departure testing for air travelers to the US.”

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