As FAA Won't Require Face Masks, Airlines Begin Cracking Down

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While U.S. airlines in May announced that it would require employees and passengers to wear face coverings for the duration of their trip, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it won't require the wearing of masks on commercial aircraft, continuing to leave that decision to individual airlines, according to USA Today.

FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson told a Senate committee that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should be tasked with requiring safety protocols on commercial airlines. "Our space is aviation safety, and their space is public health," he said.

In an effort to create nationwide regulations regarding air travel, Senators Edward J. Markey and Richard Blumenthal, earlier in June, called on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue rules to protect the health and safety of the flying public. The pair demanded rules to require face masks for air travelers, ensure frontline crewmembers are provided with personal protective equipment, support social distancing, and mandate strong cleaning protocols for aircraft.

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On Wednesday, American Airlines kicked a passenger off its flight for refusing to wear a mask. He has since been banned until “face coverings are no longer required by customers,” according to the airline, as reported by CNN. This was the first known case of a passenger being kicked off and banned as it appears airlines are becoming stricter in regard to their own safety protocols.

And while the FAA won’t make face masks mandatory, Dickson said in the Senate meeting that passengers are supposed to wear masks when directed by flight attendants, adding this is "for their own protection and the protection of those around them. Face coverings are especially important in situations where social distancing is not feasible."

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