TSA says passengers who refuse to wear masks could be fined up to $1,500

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Airline travellers are now legally required to wear a face mask or face fines ranging from $US250 to $US1,500, the Transportation Security Administration said Friday.

In an effort to implement President Joe Biden’s executive order mandating face mask use during travel, the TSA began requiring passengers to wear masks on February 2. In an update Friday, the agency said it would implement civil penalties, with first-time offenders facing a $US250 fine, and repeat offenders paying as much as $US1,500.

The TSA also said it can implement fines out of that range depending on the situation, and that transportation operators will be able to report offences for possible fines.

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Face masks are now required on all modes of transportation that fall under the TSA’s jurisdiction, including aeroplanes, trains, buses, and public transportation, until at least May 11, the agency said. Masks must be worn in airports and rail stations as well. In addition to fines, TSA previously said it may deny entry, boarding, or transport to those without a mask.

Passengers who arrive at a screening checkpoint without a mask will first be asked to wear one in order to proceed, the TSA said. If they refuse, they will be prohibited from entering the terminal and “may be subject to a civil penalty for attempting to circumvent screening requirements, interfering with screening personnel, or a combination of those offences.”

The rule enforces what 11 major US airlines and Amtrak have already been doing. As of last month, airlines had already banned more than 2,5000 passengers for not complying with their mask requirements, with Delta and United combined banning 1,500 passengers. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention also mandated face masks on buses, ferries, subways, taxis, and even ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft.