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Tipsheet

After Union Lobbying, the CDC Has Made a Decision About Mask Mandates on Airplanes

Shawn Thew/Pool via AP

UPDATE: A representative for the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA sent a statement about the decision and says their particular union did not take a stance on the issue. 

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"Some Flight Attendants have said they want the mask mandate extended and others have been adamant that they do not. AFA did not take a position but instead focused on accurate information and calm in the cabin. As long as the federal rules are in place Flight Attendants are charged with managing all safety measures on the plane," the AFA-CWA released in a statement Thursday. "We continue to advise the public of the role of Flight Attendants so that the public is not focusing frustrations on the crew, in response to any of our safety instructions. That is our focus: backing up Flight Attendants simply doing our job."

"We are encouraged that the relevant agencies will use this 30-day extension period to create a revised framework for transportation-based mitigation measures, so workers and the public can have confidence when mask mandates are lifted. Like all Americans, Flight Attendants look forward to the time when masks are no longer required for confidence in the safety of air travel. We will continue to work with airlines and government to make that a reality as soon as possible," the statement continues.

***Original post***

The Centers for Disease Control has recommended the Transportation Security Agency continue its mask requirement for air travel. TSA is taking the recommendation and has extended the mandate until April 18, 2022. It was set to expire on March 18. Masks will also be required on Amtrak trains. 

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"At CDC’s recommendation, TSA will extend the security directive for mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs for one month, through April 18th," TSA released in a statement Thursday. "During that time, CDC will work with government agencies to help inform a revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor. This revised framework will be based on the COVID-19 community levels, risk of new variants, national data, and the latest science. We will communicate any updates publicly if and/or when they change."

The science behind the recommendation was not provided. In recent weeks, Travel Pulse reported flight attendant unions pushed for an extension of the mask mandate. 

Taylor Garland, a spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents flight attendants at United, Frontier, Spirit and Alaska, told the Morning News that nothing has changed in the cabin to sway the flight attendants.

“The conditions in aviation are the same,” she said. “Our youngest passengers do not yet have access to the vaccine. ... The airplane is a unique but controlled environment for everyone’s safety. The layered approach to safety and security includes masks.”

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A representative for the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA reached out to Townhall and said Garland was not taking a position in favor of extending the mandate. The representative also said AFA-CWA did not lobby the Biden administration directly. More information about the remarks can be found here

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the extension during the daily briefing Thursday afternoon. 

While Americans will still be required to wear masks on airplanes and other transportation, the White House dropped their mandate in February. Washington D.C. and New York City have done the same, except for young children. Hawaii, the last state with restrictions, will end masking on March 25. 

In summer 2020, long before any mask mandates, Americans were told airplanes were clean and safe. 

"Most modern jet aircraft are equipped with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. These filters have similar performance to those used in hospital operating theatres and industrial clean rooms. These HEPA filters are 99.9+% effective at removing viruses, bacteria and fungi," the International Air Transport Association says

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Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a statement from the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA regarding the mask extension. Additional context has been added to clarify remarks (as reported by Travel Pulse) made by Taylor Garland, the spokeswoman for the union. 

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