The CDC Just Extended Its Travel Mask Mandate for 2 More Weeks, Here's Why

They're doing it "out of an abundance of caution."

Man wearing mask on airplane
Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Passengers hoping to finally shed their masks on the nation's trains, planes, and buses will have to wait a bit longer. The CDC will extend its federal travel mask mandate—initially set to expire on April 18—for at least two more weeks.

The Associated Press reports that the agency wants more time to monitor a recent uptick of cases, mainly to see if rising infections lead to an increase in hospitalizations. According to the AP, the move is being made "out of an abundance of caution." 

The CDC's travel mask mandate has been in place since 2020 and now stands as one of the final remaining COVID-19 restrictions in the US. The CDC last extended the mandate in early March and did so again despite airline CEOs encouraging President Biden to drop the mandate. It applies to most forms of transportation, including airlines, trains, buses, subways, and taxi and rideshare services, as well as associated stations and airports.

Many airlines in the UK have recently dropped their mask mandates, and countries like Norway, Mexico, and Jamaica no longer require masks on flights. 

Total reported COVID-19 cases have risen about 8% in the last two weeks, according to data from The New York Times, although they remain exponentially lower than previous peaks. Hospitalizations and ICU admissions continue to fall. 

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Chris Mench is an editor focusing on NYC News at Thrillist. You can follow him on Twitter for more of his work.