US Travel to Induct Elliott Ferguson, Peter Herschend Into Travel Industry's Hall of Leaders
Is Travel Cash a Thing of the Past?
Guanajuato is Ready to Host Your Next MICE Event
Save up to 25% + $150 Resort Credit at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
Blue Sky Tours
Greater Miami & Miami Beach Specialist
Travel Suppliers With the Best Commissions for Travel Advisors
Partner With Palladium and Sell as a Specialist
On Thursday, March 10th, the Transportation Security Administration announced that "At CDC's recommendation, TSA will extend the security directive for mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs for one month, through April 18th."
The same CDC that recommended that 70% of the population didn't need to wear masks indoors.
The same CDC that made masking "highly recommended" on cruise ships back in February.
Let me start out by saying that I do believe that masks work, especially for vulnerable populations and for the unvaccinated. Masking remains the best way to reduce the likelihood of transmitting or catching COVID-19 if you are not vaccinated.
Which gets to the heart of the matter.
Half-measures and poor messaging have been the root of many of our problems from COVID-19. Whether it was the lockdowns that forced small restaurants and businesses to close while allowing big box stores to be deemed "essential" at the beginning of the pandemic or the faux pas that vaccines work to prevent 100% of infection.
In that light, this head-scratching decision by the TSA (who is using the CDC for political cover) makes perfect sense.
The problem with Thursday's extension isn't that it is happening. It's that it is happening in a period of rapid decline of infections, deaths, and hospitalizations. It's that it is happening when every state in the country (including Hawaii and California, which had some of the strictest approaches to COVID-19) has rescinded mask mandates.
From a travel perspective, it makes our job as advisors more difficult to explain the inconsistency. That's just part of the job.
But there is one area that does concern me and many others in the industry - the abuse that TSA agents, flight attendants and other airline employees are taking at the hands of naughty passengers. 5,981 incidents of unruly were recorded by the FAA in 2021. Of those, 72% were mask-related.
Should passengers be better human beings? Yes. Should those that lash out at staff be punished? Also, yes.
How much of the madness would stop if mask mandates were either enforced or lifted across the board? It would change the narrative greatly especially right now to "follow the science" that the CDC recommends in other forms of transportation and remove the mandates.
I do want to make it clear that I'm not throwing my hands up because a few people want to follow the rules. I'm saying it is time to abandon the mask mandate for transportation because it would be consistent with other CDC recommendations.
Here's to looking ahead to April 18th.
John Maddox is the owner of Tropical Getaways Travel. Based in Memphis, Tennessee, John is a specialist in cruising and...
the latest travel news, advice, updates, upcoming exclusive deals and more.
CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC
How a Potential Government Shutdown Could Impact Travel
Highlights of the Dominican Republic TravFORUM