Mask Mandates in Airplanes and Airports Proposed
Leading Democrats in Congress, frustrated with what they say are inadequate protections against Covid-19 in air travel, introduced legislation to require the federal government to mandate face masks on flights and in airports.
The bill, unveiled on Thursday, would also force the government to create a national aviation preparedness plan for epidemics—which is required under an international treaty but was never done in the U.S.—and to ramp up government-sponsored study of how infectious diseases are transmitted on airliners.
Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) co-sponsored the bill and is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.The law would authorize criminal penalties for passengers who disobey a flight crew’s instructions to wear a mask on a plane and sets civil fines for people who don’t wear masks in an airport. The legislation is sponsored by 20 lawmakers, all Democrats, and comes as mask usage becomes increasingly political.
Two Senators have also proposed similar legislation in the Senate, but it’s unclear whether such a bill could pass in the Republican-controlled chamber.
From The Hill
No More Mask Exemptions on Southwest Flights
Southwest Airlines now says the airline won’t be able to transport anyone over 2 years old who won’t wear a face mask, even those with medical conditions.
Southwest Airlines updated its mask policy Wednesday, followed by American Airlines a few hours later. Both removed the exception for those with medical conditions. The stricter rules even call for passengers to wear a mask from the second they enter the airport until exiting the airport on the other end.
“If a customer is unable to wear a face-covering or mask for any reason, Southwest regrets that we will be unable to transport the individual,” Dallas-based Southwest Airlines said in statement. " In those cases, we hope the customer will allow us to welcome them onboard in the future, if public health guidance, or other safety-related circumstances, regarding face coverings changes.”
From the Dallas Morning News
The Trump administration will offer as much as $2.1 billion to Covid-19 vaccine partners GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi, the biggest U.S. investment so far in fast-tracking shots and snapping up supplies. Part of “Operation Warp Speed,” the funding will support clinical trials and manufacturing while letting the U.S. secure 100 million doses of the shot, if it’s successful, the companies said today. The U.S. has the option of receiving an additional 500 million doses longer term
In Japan, Pfizer and BioNTech agreed to provide the nation with 120 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine they’re developing. The U.S. pharmaceutical giant and the German biotech firm said they’d supply the shots in the first half of 2021. Pfizer and BioNTech said earlier this week that they’ve started a later-stage trial of their candidate and set a goal for regulatory review as soon as October.
From the New York Times
House Passes $51 Billion Bill for Energy Department, Army Corps
Measure would include more money for renewable energy
The House passed a six-bill fiscal 2021 spending package that would include billions of dollars in funding for the Energy Department, the Army Corps of Engineers, and related agencies.
The $50.5 billion bill passed the lower chamber 217-197 on Friday.
The White House issued a statement recommending President Donald Trump veto H.R. 7617 if it reaches him, in part because the administration objects to the provision prohibiting funds for a border wall along the Mexican border. The statement also objected to the bill’s continued funding of $435 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which the administration proposed eliminating.
The Senate hasn’t yet marked up any of its fiscal 2021 spending bills.
More from Politico