The Transportation Security Administration announced on Friday that travellers who refuse to wear a mask on airplanes, trains, subways and buses could face fines ranging from $250 to $1,500. In some cases, travellers who violate the order may face even steeper fines.
Earlier this week, the TSA set a requirement for individuals to wear a mask at all airport screening checkpoints, as well as throughout commercial and public transportation systems. The rule extends to areas such as train platforms, subway stations and airports.
The requirement comes amid executive orders on masking signed by President Joe Biden and a federal mandate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the rule, travellers are required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask throughout all means of public transportation.
The TSA said it will recommend a $250 fine for first-time offenders and up to $1,500 for repeat offenders. It may seek a fine exceeding that range for individuals where there are “substantial aggravating or mitigating factors.”
A spokesperson for the TSA says that the agency has provided transportation system operations with specific guidance on how to report violations so that the agency may issue penalties to those who violate the face mask rule.
Even prior to the rule’s implementation, airlines have been requiring masks for passengers, and have already banned over 2,000 individuals for refusing to mask up. Flight attendant unions have said that the federal rule would make it easier for flight crews to enforce the requirement, according to the Associated Press.
The mask requirement exempts children under 2-years-old and people with a disability that makes it unsafe to wear a mask. The CDC says that transportation operators may request medical documentation from individuals claiming to have a reason not to wear a mask. Additionally, travellers are allowed to remove their masks when drinking or eating.