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Senate says airplane mask mandate needs to end; will it?

March 16, 2022
3 min read
Dad and son wearing masks and looking out of an airport window.
Senate says airplane mask mandate needs to end; will it?
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The Senate on Tuesday passed a resolution that would end the federal mask mandate on public transport, including during air travel.

But don't take those masks out of your carry-on bag just yet.

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The resolution passed 57-40, with eight Democrats voting in favor: Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly of Arizona, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Jon Tester of Montana, Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

One Republican, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, voted against the measure.

The resolution was considered under the Congressional Review Act, meaning it only required a simple majority vote to pass, rather than being subjected to the 60-vote filibuster.

But it's unlikely that the resolution will actually lead to a lifting of the mask mandate – though its passage in the Senate suggests political will to keep the mandate could be shifting.

Next, though, it heads to the House, where it's uncertain that House Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D–California), would allow a vote on the measure, which would be politically damaging to the Biden administration.

But even if it did, the White House said yesterday that it would veto the resolution if it passed, and the number of votes in favor of the resolution on Tuesday would not be enough to overcome a veto.

The Biden administration last week extended the mask mandate through April 18 — it was previously slated to expire on Friday, March 18.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that as part of the extension, it would create new guidelines to dictate when masks would be recommended on public transportation, suggesting that the mandate could be lifted or revised by the deadline next month.

Read more: It’s official: Flights are about to get more expensive to offset spiking jet fuel prices

in late February, the CDC issued new guidance setting benchmarks to allow communities to loosen their indoor mask mandates. Every state has since lifted — or has announced plans to lift — its requirement for face coverings.

However, cases of COVID-19 are climbing in Europe and Asia, driven by the BA.2 Omicron sub-variant, and experts have said there may be similar trends in the U.S. within the coming weeks. The sub-variant currently makes up roughly a quarter of U.S. cases.

In January, the federal government issued a 90-day extension of the public health emergency declaration surrounding the pandemic. The PHE designation is currently slated to lift on April 16, two days before the extended mask mandate’s expiration.

It’s not clear whether the PHE will be extended. The emergency declaration being lifted would have sprawling impacts, including the potential expiration of emergency use authorizations for numerous vaccines and treatments, along with an end to some insurance payments for telehealth services.

It was not immediately clear what impact the PHE lifting would have on travel-related policies, such as the requirement for Americans traveling internationally to show a negative COVID-19 test before reentering the country.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases