On Friday, the US Department of Transportation announced it was providing 100 million free face masks for travelers. Masks will be distributed to air, rail and transit passengers as part of the program.
According to the report, 86.8 million masks will be given to domestic US airports and 9.6 million split between Amtrak and other transit agencies.
Transportation Secrectary Elaine Chao offered this comment:
“This Administration is committed to protecting our people and reopening the economy; distributing these facial coverings will help boost public confidence as we begin to resume our normal lives.”
Currently, most airlines require passengers to wear a face mask or covering while traveling, although most have refused or are unable to enforce the policy leaving some passengers frustrated and confused. Airline face mask policies also vary in requirements adding even more confusion.
For example, discount airline, Spirit’s face mask policy is relatively scant on details, while United has a fairly robust policy. United also will provide free face coverings for travelers who don’t bring their own as will Delta Airlines who includes them in a customer care kit.
The airlines aren’t alone in requiring face masks during travel. On June 1st, Amtrak started requiring passengers to wear a face covering while in stations and on trains.
The DOT noted that while these coverings are provided for free passengers are still required to provide their own. DOT Face Masks are supplemental only.
Finally, there is some irony in the federal government doling out free face masks when it earlier said masks were not only not required but not helpful in stopping the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.