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Masks still required during air travel as CDC loosens indoor mask guidelines for fully vaccinated people

May 13, 2021
3 min read
Masks still required during air travel as CDC loosens indoor mask guidelines for fully vaccinated people
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As Diana Ross sang, "Drop the Mask." But not if you're planning to travel.

On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that fully vaccinated people — those who had their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least two weeks prior — can safely go maskless in most indoor and outdoor settings.

More: What to know about COVID-19 vaccines in the US

The CDC's new guidance notes that while local, state, or federal entities can still mandate masks in a variety of settings, vaccinated people can remove their masks, where allowed, without a significant risk of spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus or contracting COVID-19. Social distancing can also end for vaccinated people, the CDC said.

"We have all longed for this moment, when we can get back to some sense of normalcy," said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. "Based on the continuing downward trajectory of cases, the scientific data on the performance of our vaccines, and our understanding of how the virus spreads, that moment has come for those who are fully vaccinated."

(Screenshot courtesy of CDC)

"Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing," she added.

Notably, however, masks will continue to be required on public forms of transportation, including on planes and in airports, as well as on buses and trains. That requirement was recently extended through at least September 13.

However, Walensky hinted that the requirement could be waived sooner.

"Right now for travel, we are asking people to continue to wear their masks," Dr. Walensky said. "We are going to be looking at all of our guidance and updating all of our guidance, including our travel guidance."

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The CDC emphasized that the new guidance only applies for those who are vaccinated. Anyone who has not completed the full vaccination course — two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna shots, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson jab — and waited for two weeks should continue to wear masks.

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Earlier this week, the CDC said that it would slightly relax mask requirements aboard cruise ships, allowing fully vaccinated travelers to sit maskless in lounge chairs and around pools outdoors.

In recent weeks, the FAA has fined numerous passengers for disruptive incidents on board airplanes, including refusing to wear masks and ignoring fight attendants' instructions.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-SWA, praised the continuance of mask mandates aboard aircraft.

"Rules for aviation safety are harmonized around the world, and we must have credibility in the safety of flight if the U.S. aviation industry is to regain access to the rest of the world and fully recover," Nelson said in a statement to TPG. "We will continue to work with FAA, TSA, CDC, and other government agencies to end this pandemic."

She added: "So get vaxxed, wear a mask, and come fly with us!"

In addition to various public jurisdictions, private businesses are allowed to continue to require masks, the CDC said. At press time, there was no word of relaxed requirements at any hotel or resort chains in the U.S.

Featured image by AFP via 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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Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
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Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more