The fine is being doubled in US for people that break the rule requiring masks on planes, trains and other sorts of transportation systems to slow the spread of coronavirus, with President Joe Biden warning Thursday that violators should “be prepared to pay.”
First-time offenders would face a possible fine of $500 to $1,000 and second-time offenders could pay $1,000 to $3,000 under rules that the Transportation Security Administration said will enter effect Friday.
The fine currently starts at $250 and may go up to $1,500 for repeat offenders. “If you break the rules, be prepared to pay,” Biden said as he announced the increase during a speech outlining sweeping new federal vaccine requirements as part of an effort to extend COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant.
The president also rebuked people that are removing their anger about the mask requirement on flight crews. “And by the way, show some respect,” he said.
“The anger you see on television toward flight attendants et al. doing their job is wrong. It’s ugly.” The mask mandate has been controversial and has led to several tense encounters between passengers who don’t need to wear a mask and flight attendants asked to enforce the rule.
The Federal Aviation Administration said last month that airlines have reported 3,889 incidents involving unruly passengers this year, and 2,867 — or 74% — involved refusing to wear a mask. The rule requiring masks on planes and every one transportation system will remain in effect until a minimum of Jan. 18, the Department of Homeland Security said.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said masks are going to be required “as long as necessary” to guard public health amid the pandemic.
The mask order, supported Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for responding to the pandemic, was first issued on Jan. 29, days after Biden took office. Before that, airlines had their own requirements for face coverings but former President Donald Trump’s administration had declined to form it a federal rule.