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Federal travel mask mandate extended into January

The Transportation Security Administration announced on Tuesday it is extending the federal mask mandate for airplane, bus, and train passengers through Jan. 18.

This is being done to "minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation," the agency said, and comes as the Delta variant continues to spread across the country. The mandate was put in place on Feb. 1, and was already extended once before in April to Sept. 13. 

"Extending the federal mask mandate for travel makes sense for the current health environment," Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy for the U.S. Travel Association, said in a statement. "The universal wearing of masks in airports and on airplanes, trains, and other forms of public transportation is both an effective safeguard against spreading the virus and boosts public confidence in traveling — both of which are paramount for a sustained economic recovery."

Those found in violation of the mandate face fines, and there are exemptions for travelers under the age of 2 and people with specific disabilities.