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TSA workers now have authority to enforce mask mandates at airport security checkpoints

The TSA authorization backs up the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mask mandate for all public transit.
A TSA officer wears a protective mask while waiting to screen passengers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Monday, May 18, 2020, in SeaTac, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
A TSA officer wears a protective mask while waiting to screen passengers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Monday, May 18, 2020, in SeaTac, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) [ ELAINE THOMPSON | AP ]
Published Feb. 1

Nope.

That’s the message that Transportation Security Administration workers are now authorized to enforce against anyone trying to fly without a mask.

Backing up the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mask mandate issued Saturday for all public transit — planes, trains and buses — the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Sunday gave enforcement authority to TSA employees “at TSA screening checkpoints and throughout the commercial and public transportation system,” read a Determination of a National Emergency signed by the department’s acting secretary, David Pekoske.

“The purpose of this Executive Order is to save lives and allow all Americans, including the millions of people employed in the transportation industry, to travel and work safely,” Pekoske’s declaration said. “I specifically direct the Transportation Security Administration to use its authority to accept the services of, provide services to, or otherwise cooperate with other federal agencies, including through the implementation of countermeasures with appropriate departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States in order to address a threat to transportation, recognizing that such threat may involve passenger and employee safety.”

Also included in the CDC’s mask order, which takes effect Monday at 11:59 p.m., are public boats, subways, taxis and ride-shares, plus inside airports and other transportation hubs.

The CDC emphasized that its edict came about due to the overwhelming number of coronavirus cases nationwide, combined with the difficulty of staying 6 feet apart on a public conveyance.

“Travel has led — and continues to lead to — interstate and international spread of the virus that causes COVID-19,” the CDC said Saturday. “Wearing masks that completely cover the mouth and nose reduce the spread of COVID-19. People who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic) or are not yet showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic) might not know that they are infected but can still spread COVID-19 to others. Masks also offer protection to the wearer.”

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