LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - President Biden signed an executive order in January, requiring face masks on all modes of public transportation.
It went into effect one week ago and requires masks on planes, trains, buses and inside their hubs.
TSA will help enforce the mandate.
Spokesperson for the southwest region, Patricia Mancha, says first and foremost, this is a collaborative effort with the traveling public.
“So, this is not about punitive actions, about us looking for people who refuse to wear a mask or are not wearing a mask, no. We really are looking to help ensure that all of us are safe,” Mancha said.
Before the order went into effect, travelers without a mask could pass through the security checkpoint.
Now, TSA won’t allow that.
At that point, you can buy a mask in the airport, or take one of the free ones provided by the CDC or TSA, or miss your flight.
“You know the great majority of people wear their masks, wash their hands often, don’t travel if they’re sick, so that’s really good news. It’s really just a few people that maybe have said I’m not going to wear a mask,” Mancha added.
Mancha says flight attendants, bus operators, and other transportation employees, including those in rideshare services, can report someone to TSA for not wearing their mask.
There is a potential for civil fines, at $250 dollars for the first offense and up to $1,500 after that.
“Once it gets to the point of a fine, the situation has escalated greatly. But again, we are working with the public. We want everyone to comply, and this is a partnership,” Mancha said.
Children under two, or those with a disability who have contacted TSA Cares 72 hours prior to their flight, are exempt.
Mancha says under the order, face shields and neck gaiters don’t take the place of a mask.
Agents in Lubbock said they have not had trouble with travelers refusing to comply.