(CNN) – Bad news for travelers who hoped to ditch masks. The TSA has extended the mask mandate for people on planes, trains, and buses for two weeks, through May 3.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made the recommendation to the TSA as they continue to monitor the new Omicron variant BA.2.
While daily COVID cases remain low, they have ticked up slightly higher and the CDC wants to see what happens with hospitalizations and serious illness over the coming weeks.
White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said, “BA.2 is causing an increase in cases, we will want to watch that carefully, see if it translates into severe disease. At this point it’s much more about paying close attention and seeing what happens.”
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said the unique settings of trains, planes, and buses also plays into the reason for the extension. He explained, “Because it’s not necessarily an optional setting for people and because, again, folks are together for a long period of time, that’s why the CDC has leaned into being cautious there and recommending that people continue to wear those masks.”
Many airlines began requiring passengers and crew to wear masks back in mid-2020, but there wasn’t an official TSA mandate until February 2021, after President Biden took office.