18:34 PM

Federal mask order extended, vaccine requirements amended for travelers

The extended mask requirement is one of several measures announced Thursday to battle COVID-19 during the holiday season and beyond.

On Thursday, Dec. 2, the White House announced an extension of its transportation mask order, which requires all travelers, guests and employees to wear a face covering on airplanes, trains and buses as well as inside airports and other mass transit stations. That requirement, which was already in place through mid-January, will now be extended through March 18, 2022.

The extended mask order was one of a number of new actions the Biden administration put forward to combat COVID-19 as the United States heads into the winter months and with the emergence of a new variant, Omicron.

The White House also announced more stringent testing requirements for international travelers entering the U.S. from another country. As of Dec. 6, all air passengers, regardless of vaccination status, must show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than one day before travel into the country.

The CDC outlines the new requirement, as well as details about the types of tests accepted as well as other information for air travelers. All passengers traveling into and out of the U.S. should review the requirements before their travel dates and also check with their airline for any further instructions. Many countries outside the U.S. are enacting similar protocols for foreign travelers.

While Tampa International Airport is not responsible for validating testing -- that is typically done by the airline before boarding -- it does adhere to the federal mask requirement and currently enforces the federal mask order in all indoor areas of TPA. Passengers and guests who forget masks when arriving at TPA can request them at the Information kiosk on Level 3 of the Main Terminal, or purchase them at various shops throughout the Airport.

The Transportation Security Administration issued a statement Thursday: 

"Following the President’s order and announcement regarding efforts to combat the Omicron variant, TSA, in conjunction with the CDC, will extend the face mask requirement for individuals across all transportation networks throughout the United States, including at airports, onboard commercial aircraft, on over-the-road buses, and on commuter bus and rail systems through March 18, 2022."