If you’re planning to travel by plane, train, or public bus, don’t put away those face masks just yet.
On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that it is extending the mask mandate that was set to expire on April 18 by 15 days, through at least May 3, 2022. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will continue enforcing the order.
The reason? CDC is monitoring the spread of the Omicron variant, especially the BA.2 subvariant. And cases are rising.
“Since early April, there have been increases in the 7-day moving average of cases in the U.S. The CDC Mask Order remains in effect while CDC assesses the potential impact of the rise of cases on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and healthcare system capacity,” the CDC said in a statement.
CDC also said it will update its Travel Health Notice system for international destinations, beginning April 18.
“[T]his new system will reserve Level 4 travel health notices for special circumstances, such as rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern, or healthcare infrastructure collapse.,” the CDC announced.
“Levels 3, 2, and 1 will continue to be primarily determined by 28-day incidence or case counts. With this new configuration, travelers will have a more actionable alert for when they should not travel to a certain destination (Level 4), regardless of vaccination status, until we have a clearer understanding of the COVID-19 situation at that destination.”
Bottom line: pay attention. This COVID thing is not over.