The International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA is imploring the federal government to require passengers to wear face-coverings on all flights, calling the Federal Aviation Administration’s inaction “absurd” during an interview with TODAY.
The FAA has encouraged mask usage amid the coronavirus pandemic but has thus far stopped short of issuing a mandate.
“It is absurd that the FAA has not done this yet, that DOT has not taken a leadership role here,” said Nelson. “On September 12, 2001, there were changes to regulations and security. And here we are, well into the spread of this virus and still no mandate from the federal government, still no plan from the federal government. We absolutely need that backing from our government.”
Nelson called mask enforcement “the most critical item that will help limit the risk of the spread of the virus.”
“We really implored our airlines to do that when the federal government didn’t step up,” she added. “And what we’ve seen is a drop in cases with crews, but we have to be more clear about how people are supposed to wear those masks, what kind of mask etiquette they should practice when they take a drink or go to eat something, and that will keep us the most safe.”
Most airlines require passengers to wear masks on all flights but have gotten push back from some customers and are limited in terms of the consequences they can enforce when passengers flout the rules.
“We do have individuals who challenge that and don’t want to wear the mask, and the airlines are saying they’ll be banned from flying, but we need more backing from the federal government,” Nelson told TODAY. “We had a flight attendant who was just assaulted the other day, and all she can do is file charges herself.”
In addition to wearing a mask properly so that it covers the mouth and nose whenever passengers aren’t eating or drinking, travelers are encouraged to wash their hands frequently and sanitize their tray table, seats and armrests with disinfectant wipes.
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