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jetBlue Becomes First Major U.S. Airline to Require Passengers to Wear Face Masks

jetBlue Becomes First Major U.S. Airline to Require Passengers to Wear Face Masks

jetBlue has become the first major U.S. airline to require passengers to wear a face mask or covering throughout their entire journey in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The policy mirrors that of rules already being enforced in Canada and will come into effect of May 4.

The CDC has recommended the use of face masks or homemade face coverings since April 3 after examining evidence that suggests many people who contract the novel Coronavirus are asymptomatic or presymptomatic and could pass on the virus without knowing it.

While there is little evidence to show that wearing a face mask can help adequately protect the wearer, more and more health bodies including the CDC believe wearing a face mask could lower the risk of a sufferer passing on the virus. That’s why the CDC now recommends wearing a mask in places where maintaining social distancing is difficult – like on an airplane.

jetBlue’s president and chief operating officer Joanna Geraghty said wearing a face mask or covering is “the new flying etiquette”.

“Wearing a face covering isn’t about protecting yourself it’s about protecting those around you,” Geraghty explained. “This is the new flying etiquette. Onboard, cabin air is well circulated and cleaned through filters every few minutes but this is a shared space where we have to be considerate of others,” she continued.

“We are also asking our customers to follow these CDC guidelines in the airport as well.”

jetBlue’s in-flight crew members are already required to wear face masks mirroring rules recently introduced by United for its flight attendants. On Monday, American Airlines also said it would be mandatory for flight attendants to wear face masks from May 1 and would start giving out masks to passengers from early May.

Passengers flying with jetBlue will be expected to being their own face masks or face coverings which will need to be worn from check-in all the way through to deplaning. Only small children will be exempt from the policy and JetBlue has reminded passengers to save N95 masks for frontline healthcare workers.

“Good job, jetBlue for being the first U.S. airline to take this responsible step, which CDC advises will help slow the spread of the virus,” commented Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA).

Nelson has been calling on federal authorities to make it mandatory for passengers to wear masks on all flights and was instrumental in United’s policy mandating the wearing of masks by flight attendants. “All airlines should follow jetBlue’s lead, including its efforts to fully communicate the change before it becomes effective next week so that Flight Attendants are not put in the position of being enforcers without information and backing from the airline,” Nelson continued.

“We must do everything we can to flatten the curve, restore passenger confidence, and help frontline essential aviation workers feel safer about coming to work,” Nelson implored. “We’re all in this together.”

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