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Biden’s mask mission: Transportation officials weigh various options to implement Biden’s new requirements for passengers



The normal rule-making process takes at least a few months to complete, so officials are believed to be considering urgent actions that may take effect soon. Biden signed an executive order Thursday requiring interstate travelers to wear masks. On his first day in office, he asked Americans to wear masks for 100 days to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Sources said that agencies are considering measures to implement administrative orders, such as the Federal Aviation Administration’s civil penalties for air travelers, the Department of Transportation’s broader order for multiple modes of transportation, and the Transportation Security Administration’s instructions. They spoke on condition of anonymity to describe sensitive and preliminary discussions between agency officials and with the transportation industry.

Some people describe the dialogue as a preliminary dialogue and point out that the methods of each agency may change.

The possible result is a series of measures from different agencies that supervise the rules for different types of travel such as trains, buses, planes, public transport and ferries. In addition to the FAA, the Ministry of Transport also includes the Federal Railway Administration, which supervises trains, the Federal Motor Transportation Safety Administration, which supervises buses, and the Federal Transportation Agency, which participates in the supervision of the transportation system. The Coast Guard rules ferry safety.

Federal actions can provide greater consistency and harsher penalties, and Biden instructed multiple federal agencies to “take immediate action.”

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Currently, the requirements for masks stem from local government orders on terminals and airports, as well as individual companies and operators’ rules that outline passenger behavior.

The project was carried out while Biden’s government was still being formed. The Senate has not yet confirmed the candidates to lead the transportation, labor, homeland security and health sectors. Transport Minister Pete Buttigieg’s nominee testified at his confirmation hearing that once he took office, he wanted to see “all relevant authorities” to force a mask. Currently, some agencies are led by senior professional officials, and policy officials carefully selected by the government are adapting to the new job.

Possible fine

A source familiar with the discussion said that one method under consideration is to impose civil penalties on wearing masks and allow the FAA to evaluate destructive or non-compliant travelers. A source familiar with the discussion said that the early discussions included consideration of a maximum fine of $20,000, which they emphasized was preliminary. Another source said that the attorney is currently studying the issue. Two sources said the FAA may take action in about two weeks.

One of the sources said that FAA policy can be accompanied by formal or informal recommendations that airlines should include mask rules in pre-flight safety instructions and flight attendants’ demonstrations.

At the same time, according to two sources, the Ministry of Transport is considering issuing masking directives applicable to multiple modes of transportation. It is unclear what form of action the DOT may take and when it will take effect.

Two sources familiar with the matter said Sunday that the Transportation Security Administration is in contact with industry officials as it considers how to take action.

Spokespersons for the FAA and DOT declined to comment, and instead handed over CNN to the White House to comment on the plan. CNN did not comment when contacted by the White House.

TSA told CNN in a statement, “It is exploring how the agency can work with DOT, FAA, CDC, and TSA’s security partners (i.e. airports, airlines) to jointly implement the President’s travel order for passengers to wear masks. Airports, planes, trains, ferries, intercity buses, public transportation and passenger rail systems.”

Industry to take action

In the industry, people have a desire to act. The flight attendants and other transport personnel find themselves on the front line, because in some cases, when passengers refuse to cover up, the tension becomes rough and even violent.

American Airlines, which represents the largest airline in the United States, has repeatedly expressed support for federal government orders. It requires the competent authority to limit the scope of the order to only passengers on the grounds of other requirements for the crew.

The National Air Carriers Association (whose members include Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Airlines) said on Friday that the upcoming rules “are the key to ensuring the safety of passengers, crew and airport staff and eliminating the lingering uncertainty of masks And a long step. Commercial aviation requirements.”

The Flight Attendants Association, a union that urged the Trump administration to take action last spring, said the mask was “critical” in the cabin, and in this case, proper social distancing is not an option.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson (Steve Dickson), a five-year Trump nominee, said he believes passengers should wear masks, but has not previously requested it.

He did sign an order recently instructing FAA officials to severely crack down on passengers who fail to follow flight attendants’ instructions and cause damage in flight, including non-compliance with airlines’ regulations on wearing masks. The agency pointed out that certain violations can be fined up to $35,000.

The amount of fines the FAA may impose on various violations is listed in agency guidelines. The suspected offender may be able to negotiate a reduction.

The latest version of the guide (revised earlier this year) stipulates that “travelers who pose an imminent threat to the safety of the aircraft or the collective safety of other individuals shall be fined between US$10,000 and US$20,000.”

CNN’s Nikki Carvajal contributed to this report.


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