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Many states have decided to mandate mask-wearing over the past year due to COVID, but former President Donald Trump avoid any national mask mandates. As administrations changed, however, so did mask requirements. Though President Joe Biden has not declared a national mask mandate, he did recently invoke federal power to mandate masks for those traveling in public places, such as airports, bus stations, and train stations. Now, officials are warning that you could be fined for violating the new mask mandate. Read on to find out how much money you could be forced to pay, and for more coronavirus news, The White House Just Confirmed This Grim COVID Rumor.
You can get fined $250 for violating the new mask mandate.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced on Feb. 5 that they will be issuing civil penalty fines for travelers who refuse to wear a mask, per President Biden's executive order. For your first offense, the TSA said they will consider fines around $250. "TSA has provided transportation system operators specific guidance on how to report violations so that TSA may issue penalties to those who refuse to wear a face mask," the administration stated in the announcement. And for essential mask guidance, This One Type of Face Mask Is "Unacceptable," Warns the Mayo Clinic.
If you violate the mandate more than once, you could get fined even more.
A $250 fine is only recommended for your first offense, however. If you are a "repeat offender," the TSA said they will charge up to $1,500. And depending on your behavior, they may choose to charge even more. "Based on substantial aggravating or mitigating factors, TSA may seek a sanction amount that falls outside these ranges," the administration explained in the statement. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Officials have not been able to enforce mask requirements before this mandate.
President Biden's mask mandate may not seem like much of a change to some, as many airports and airlines were requiring people to wear masks before this. However, according to the Association of Flight Attendants, without a federal mask mandate, it was hard to enforce any requirements. In fact, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported on Jan. 13 that there had been a "disturbing increase in incidents where airline passengers have disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior," which they say partly stemmed from passengers' refusal to wear masks.
"Knowing that we have the backup of the federal government is essential to ensuring strict mask compliance across the board," Taylor Garland, a spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants, told NPR. "When the government establishes a requirement or a law, people listen. People will respond to the law, more so than a specific airline policy or a flight attendant asking." And for more on the future of the pandemic, Dr. Fauci Just Said We'll Never Be Able to Do This Again.
This mask mandate is effective until at least May.
President Biden issued the federal mask mandate on Jan. 21, and the TSA started requiring individuals to wear masks in compliance with the order on Feb. 2. According to the administration, the mandate will remain effective until at least May 11—meaning you can be fined for not wearing a mask when traveling over the next three months. Beyond a financial penalty, "passengers without a mask may be denied entry, boarding, or continued transport," the TSA noted. And for more mask mistakes to avoid, If You Wear Your Mask Like This, You're Not Getting "Maximal Protection."