The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Friday issued an update to its recent mask mandate for travelers passing through security checkpoints, confirming that violators face fines ranging from $250 up to $1,500, for repeat offenders.
Depending on "aggravating or mitigating factors," the TSA may even recommend a fine that "falls outside these ranges," the agency said Friday.
The TSA first announced its latest mask mandate on Jan. 31, following President Biden’s executive order requiring travelers to wear face coverings when using public transportation or passing through public transportation hubs, including airports. The TSA’s mandate went into effect Feb 2, requiring passengers over the age of 2 to wear masks at TSA checkpoints until at least May 11, 2021.
"TSA will fully comply with the President’s Executive Orders, CDC guidance and the DHS National Emergency determination to ensure healthy and secure travel across all transportation sectors," said Darby LaJoye, an official with the TSA, in the initial announcement. "This will help prevent further spread of COVID-19 and encourage a unified government response."
Just days after the TSA began enforcing the mandate, the agency updated its website to include the specific fines that violators would face. The agency also confirmed that it had "provided transportation system operators specific guidance on how to report violations so that TSA may issue penalties," according to the update.
Prior to President Biden’s executive order, it was up to the airlines and airport facilities to enforce their own mask mandates. Many began making them mandatory for the flight crews in May 2020, before extending the requirement to passengers in the following weeks. In early May, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) also announced the requirement of masks on all officers at airports nationwide.
To date, U.S. airlines have already banned thousands of passengers since the pandemic began, many of whom were barred from travel for defying mask mandates introduced last summer.