President Joe Biden’s latest executive order directs the Transportation Security Administration to double the fines travelers face who refuse to mask upin airports and“on certain modes of public transportation”
The TSA’s travel mask mandate requires masks on airplanes, trains, buses and in airports and train stations. The mandate first went into effect in February and was recently extended through Jan. 18 to “minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation.”
The new fines for those who refuse to wear masks take effect Friday would be $500 to $1,000 for first offenders and $1,000 to $3,000 for repeat offenders. Children under the age of 2 and those with certain disabilities are exempt.
The executive order, announced Thursday, also ensures that masking requirements remain in place in other modes of transportation that do not fall under the TSA mandate.
“If you break the rules, be prepared to pay,” Biden said during a Thursday press conference. He went on to call passengers who have expressed anger toward flight attendants because of the masking rules “wrong” and “ugly.”
► Mask mandate extended:Travel mask mandate extended into January for planes, trains, buses as COVID cases rise
Airlines began requiring masks early in the pandemic but have faced resistance from a minority of passengers.
The FAA has so far reported 4,184 unruly passenger incidents on flights this year, 73% of which were related to the mask mandate.
FAA regulations state that “no person may assault, threaten, intimidate, or interfere with a crewmember in the performance of the crewmember’s duties aboard an aircraft being operated.” So far this year, the agency has levied more than $1 million in fines against “unruly” passengers.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz.