Feds Extend Face Mask Requirement for Transit, Announce Updates to Travel Health Notice System

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Wednesday announced, at the recommendation of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that it will extend its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring the use of face masks on public transportation and transportation hubs for 15 days through May 3, 2022.

The move comes as the CDC continues to monitor the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, especially the BA.2 subvariant that now comprises the overwhelming majority of U.S. cases. Since early April 2022, there have been increase in the seven-day moving average of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. According to the TSA, during the 15-day extension period, the CDC will assess the potential impact the recent rise of COVID-19 cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations, deaths, and health system capacity. TSA will continue to closely coordinate with the CDC and communicate any changes to its requirement. Additional information from TSA is available here.

In addition to extending the mask requirement for transit, the CDC announced it will update its Travel Health Notice system for international designations. To help the public understand when the highest level of concern is most urgent, the CDC’s new system will reserve Level 4 travel health notices for special circumstances, such as rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern, or health care infrastructure collapse. Levels 3, 2, and 1 will continue to be primarily by 28-day incidence or case counts. The new CDC level system will be effective on Monday, April 18. Additional information from the CDC is available here.