(Black PR Wire) A federal mask mandate for planes, trains, airports and some bus services that was set to expire in five days will be extended until May 3, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday.
Why the extension?
The spread of the Omicron subvariant BA.2 — which now accounts for more than 85% of new coronavirus cases in the United States — was cited by the CDC as the reason for the extension, The New York Times reports.
“In order to assess the potential impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and health care system capacity, the CDC order will remain in place at this time,” the agency said in a statement.
It explained that it would be monitoring the BA.2 subvariant while it weighed whether to extend the rule yet again, the Times reported.
Airline executives, the hospitality industry and others have been pushing for the CDC to scrap the mask mandate, as well as the requirement for people to test before returning to the United States from other countries.
But the CDC’s extension of the mask mandate was welcomed by some passengers, who say it makes them feel safe in crowded planes and airports, according to the Times.
Before the extension was announced, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha told NBC‘s “Today” show that CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky would use a “framework that the CDC scientists create” to determine whether the extension was necessary.
Tips for safe traveling
The CDC recommends not traveling if:
- You are sick, even if you recovered from COVID-19 within the past 90 days or are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines.
- You tested positive for COVID-19.
- Do not travel until a full 10 days after your symptoms started or the date your positive test was taken if you had no symptoms.
- You are waiting for results of a COVID-19 test.
- You had close contact with a person with COVID-19 and are recommended to quarantine.
- Do not travel until a full 5 days after your last close contact with the person with COVID-19. It is best to avoid travel for a full 10 days after your last exposure.
- If you must travel during days 6 through 10 after your last exposure:
- Get tested at least 5 days after your last close contact. Make sure your test result is negative and you remain without symptoms before traveling. If you don’t get tested, avoid travel until a full 10 days after your last close contact with a person with COVID-19.
- Properly wear a well-fitting mask when you are around others for the entire duration of travel during days 6 through 10. If you are unable to wear a mask, you should not travel during days 6 through 10.
For more information about the travel requirements during the pandemic, click here.