Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and to reduce the spread of the virus, the President issued and Executive Order, Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel, on January 21, 2021 requiring masks to be worn in airport, on commercial aircraft, and in various modes of surface transportation. On January 27, 2021, the Acting Security of Homeland Security determined a national emergency existed requiring the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to issue Security Directive (SD) 1542-21-01 to implement the Executive Order and enforce the related Order 1 issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pursuant to the authority of 49 U.S.C. section 114. The requirements in this directive apply to all individuals, including those already vaccinated.
The following is a direct excerpt from the Security Directive:
1. Federal law requires wearing a mask at all times in and on the airport and failure to comply may result in removal and denial of re-entry.
2. Refusing to wear a mask in or on the airport tis a violation of federal law, individuals may be subject to penalties under federal law.
The requirement to wear a mask does not apply under the following circumstances:
1. When necessary to temporarily remove the mask for identity verification purposes.
2. While eating, drinking, or taking oral medications for brief periods. Prolonged periods of mask removal are not permitted for eating or drinking: the mask must be worn between bites and sips.
3. While communicating with a person who is deaf of hard of hearing when the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
4. If unconscious (for reasons other than sleeping), incapacitated, unable to be awakened, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
5. Children under the age of 2.
6. People with disabilities that cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, because of the disability defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.).
7. People for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by relevant workplace safety guidelines or federal regulations.
This Safety Directive has been extended through September 13, 2021 and may be viewed at https://www.tsa.gov.sd-and-ea