In order to have a standard set of rules for travelers amid the coronavirus pandemic, House Democrats introduced a bill that would require passengers to wear a mask while on an airplane and in an airport.
The Hill reports that the initiative would clarify that the Federal Aviation Administration has the ability to impose a mask mandate.
The “Healthy Flights Act” is spearheaded by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and the panel’s Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Rick Larsen, D-Wash.
“The Healthy Flights Act provides clear, consistent rules and guidelines that give flight and cabin crews the authority they need to keep passengers safe, mitigate the spread of this insidious disease, and help our country prepare for future pandemics," DeFazio said in a statement.
A majority of U.S. airlines already require travelers to wear masks. For passengers who refuse to comply, airlines have threatened to place them on a do-not-fly list.
But airports across the country lack a standard set of rules when it comes to wearing facial coverings, The Hill reports.
So far, the Transportation Security Administration has relied on airports to set policies on face masks. By the end of the June, masks were required to be worn inside 20 of the 30 largest hub airports in the U.S., according to The Hill.
In addition to requiring passengers to wear masks, the bill would require airline employees and certain FAA employees to receive masks and protective equipment during any public health emergency stemming from an airborne disease.
The bill also calls for a study on transmission in airplane cabins.
The Airports Council International-North America praised the proposed legislation.
“From the beginning of this pandemic, airports have taken every available step to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and the simple act of wearing a mask or other face covering goes a long way to achieving that goal,” ACI-NA CEO Kevin M. Burke said in a statement. “This bill is designed to ensure the health and safety of passengers and will help restore confidence in the traveling public.”
The international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA Sara Nelson is also a fan of the proposal. She along with Air Line Pilots Association International President Joe DePete and Association of Professional Flight Attendants President Julie Hedrick praised the bill.
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