The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week said fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors and do not have to physically distance in that setting either. However, this new recommendation does not apply to air, rail, and bus transportation.
The federal rule put in place on February 1 requires that face masks be worn at all airports, railway and bus stations, and must be worn during travel as well. This rule was set to expire on May 11 but has instead been extended to September 13 according to an April 30 press release from the TSA.
While TSA has extended the date of enforcement, all other aspects of the requirement remain unchanged, including exemptions and civil penalties. Exemptions to the face mask requirement for travelers under the age of 2 years old and those with certain disabilities will continue. The existing civil penalty fine structure will also remain in place which starts at $250 and rises to $1,500 for repeat offenders who violate this face mask requirement. Passengers who refuse to wear a mask will be considered in violation which may result in denial of boarding or removal from the airport. Guests who are here to pick up passengers are also required to wear a mask and noncompliance could result in removal from the airport and fines as well.
Pensacola International Airport and airline partners will continue to abide by the rule as long as it is in place. The airport and airline staff remind each passenger and guest that masks are still required to be worn while at the airport and during flights with posted signs and overhead announcements.
“The safety and well-being of our passengers and guests are our top priority,” said Airport Director Matthew Coughlin. “The CDC’s updated guidance for fully vaccinated people continues to require masks be worn at the airport and enforcement will continue in partnership with the airlines and our federal partners.”
Currently, the airport is seeing an increase in passengers traveling and it is expected to increase even more with United Airlines’ four additional destinations this month and the addition of Spirit Airlines’ seven destinations in June. Passengers are encouraged to arrive at least 2 hours before their scheduled departure time.