COVID-19: CDC extends coronavirus travel mask mandate to May 3

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended the COVID-19 travel mask mandate once again.

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Masks will be required for two weeks longer than initially planned, sources have told The Associated Press.

The extension is now set to run until May 3.

It was scheduled to expire on April 18, the AP reported.

The decision was made to monitor an uptick in the BA.2 omicron subvariant cases in the country.

It will be a two-week extension to see if there are any observable increases in severe virus outcomes and the decision was made out of an abundance of caution, a source told the AP.

The Transportation Security Administration enforces the rule on planes, buses, trains and transit hubs, the AP reported.

The Biden administration had been expected to issue a flexible masking plan this week to replace the nationwide mandate.

Republican lawmakers, along with airline officials, had been asking the administration to do away with the federal mask mandate for travel, ABC News reported.

Airline CEOs cited vaccine efficacy and the “burden” of enforcing the mandate in a letter to the president last month as reasons to roll back the requirements.

“Now is the time for the Administration to sunset federal transportation travel restrictions – including the international pre-departure testing requirement and the federal mask mandate – that are no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment,” the letter said, according to ABC News.

“Importantly, the effectiveness and availability of high-quality masks for those who wish to wear them gives passengers the ability to further protect themselves if they choose to do so,” the letter continued. “It makes no sense that people are still required to wear masks on airplanes, yet are allowed to congregate in crowded restaurants, schools and at sporting events without masks, despite none of these venues having the protective air filtration system that aircraft do.”

Many states have rolled back mask rules in restaurants, stores and other indoor settings. COVID-19 cases have also fallen since the peak of the omicron variant in January.

>> Related: Coronavirus: Philadelphia reinstates indoor mask mandate in public spaces

But Philadelphia has instated mask mandates indoors because of increasing COVID-19 cases in the city, WPVI reported.

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