For the majority of the businesses requiring customers to wear face masks, they ofter an exemption to those with certain medical conditions. (They also exempt those under the age of 2, per the recommendation of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.) However, a couple of major U.S. airlines have just reversed their policies on their mask mandates. American Airlines and Southwest Airlines both decided that they will no longer allow medical exemptions as a reason not to wear a face mask.
On Wednesday, American Airlines issued a news release detailing its new face mask policy. Beginning on Wednesday, July 29, anyone who flies on American must wear a face covering in the airport and onboard the aircraft, except when you're eating or drinking. The company notes that anyone who takes off their mask at an inappropriate time could be barred from flying with American as long as there is a mandate in place. "According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the best ways we can slow the spread of COVID-19 is to wear a face covering," Alison Taylor, chief customer officer of American Airlines, says in the release. "Customers and team members have been clear that they feel more safe when everyone is wearing a face covering."
Southwest Airlines also updated its face mask policy. Under the frequently asked questions sections on its coronavirus response page, it notes that anyone over the age of 2 must wear a face mask. "If a customer is unable to wear a face covering for any reason (even a verifiable medical condition), we regret that we are unable to transport the customer at this time due to safety risk of asymptomatic COVID-19 transmission by customers without face coverings," the page explains. It adds that once public health officials no longer recommend face masks, all customers will be able to fly on Southwest again.
Although this might be a surprising change to some, the best way to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus is to wear a cloth face mask. So whenever you leave the house to go to the grocery store or run other errands, make sure you have one on. (Oh, and double-check that it's clean, too.)