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TSA: Travelers not wearing masks could face fines up to $1,500

The fines can apply to passengers on airplanes, trains, subways and buses, and extends to waiting areas such as airports, train platforms and subway stations.

WASHINGTON — The Transportation Security Administration announced Friday that travelers who refuse to wear a mask could face fines ranging from $250 to $1,500, or potentially even higher in some cases.

Earlier this week, TSA began requiring individuals to wear a mask at all airport screening checkpoints and throughout commercial and public transportation systems. The requirement is in line with President Joe Biden's executive orders on mask usage and a federal requirement from the CDC. 

The rule applies to passengers on airplanes, trains, subways and buses. It says travelers must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth. The order extends to waiting areas such as airports, train platforms and subway stations.

TSA said Friday that it will recommend a $250 fine for a first offense and up to $1,500 for repeat offenders. The agency noted it may seek a fine outside of that range if there's "substantial aggravating or mitigating factors." 

A TSA spokesperson confirmed the civil penalties can apply to passengers in airports, bus and rail stations, on airplanes, public transportation, trains and buses.

TSA said it has provided transportation system operators specific guidance on how to report violations so that TSA may issue penalties to those who refuse to wear a face mask.

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Airlines have already been requiring masks and have banned more than 2,000 passengers for refusing to wear one. Flight attendant unions previously said a federal rule will make it easier for crews to enforce the requirement.

The CDC mask order exempts children under 2 years of age and people with a disability that makes it unsafe to wear a mask. Airlines struggled with an exemption for safety and stopped allowing it. The CDC said transportation operators can require medical documentation.

Travelers will be allowed to remove masks while eating or drinking.

Credit: AP
In this June 10, 2020 file photo, Transportation Security Administration agents process passengers at the south security checkpoint at Denver International Airport in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)