Face Coverings Will Be Mandatory For All Passengers At LAX
Updated at 4 p.m. ET
As the city of Los Angeles begins to ease some of the shelter-in-place restrictions put in the place to stem the spread of the coronavirus, another mandate will go into effect next week.
Anyone traveling through Los Angeles International Airport will be required to wear a mask or another type of face covering.
"The new requirement aligns with what many airlines are doing as well," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a press briefing Wednesday. "Right now many airlines require that passengers and flight crews wear face coverings on flights. And these are steps that will help us all be safer."
Garcetti's announcement comes as business and resident restrictions are beginning to ease in Los Angeles. Beginning Friday, retailers including clothing stores, florists and sporting goods stores can open for curbside pickup. In-store shopping is still prohibited.
On Saturday, most trails and golf courses can reopen so long as virus prevention measures such as social distancing and face coverings are implemented.
The new face mask requirements at airports will go into effect on May 11. Acceptable coverings include bandanas, scarves, and T-shirts held in place, according to the LAX Twitter account.
Amtrak announced face coverings will be mandatory for "all customers in stations and on trains and thruway buses" also beginning on Monday.
Currently there is no such mandate from the Transportation Security Administration requiring passengers to wear face coverings at the nation's airports, though a report from Reuters this week suggests that change is under consideration.
The TSA said Thursday that "a TSA officer may ask you to adjust the mask during the security screening process."
It also recommends passengers wash their hands directly before and after completing the security screening process and place personal items like wallets and cell phones in carry-on luggage so it can all be screened though checkpoint X-ray systems.
TSA also reports that 534 of its employees have tested positive for COVID-19, including six that have died from coronavirus-related complications.
The debate over mandating face masks at the nation's airports reached Capitol Hill during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on the effects of COVID-19 on the aviation industry.
"It would be my belief that airport workers and people passing through airports would be wearing face masks for the foreseeable future," Todd Hauptli, the head of the American Association of Airport Executives told the committee Wednesday.
He added that federal public health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services, need to issue nationwide guidelines.
Hauptli said doing so would "make sure we have a consistent approach throughout the travel experience, no matter which airline or which airport you travel though."
The airline industry has been decimated by the rapid spread of the virus, as travelers have largely stayed away from airports. In late March, a federal relief package directed more than $30 billion dollars in direct government relief to the industry, including $25 billion for commercial airlines.
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