By Neil W. McCabe
John Forbes Kerry, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, while sitting in first-class, took off his mask today as he settled into his book moments before his American Airlines flight from Boston to Washington , DC took off.
The so-called Climate Envoy was not eating, nor drinking, even though first-class passengers are often served before take-off.
In its Feb. 1 press release, “American Airlines Aligns Existing Mask Requirements with US Government Mandate,” the airline’s Chief Operating Officer David Seymour said American would fully comply with President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s mask regulations.
“Our mask requirement has been and will continue to be a critical component of our comprehensive effort to protect the health and well-being of our customers and team members during the pandemic,” said Seymour. “This federal mandate will provide additional support to our crew members who are working diligently to enforce our policy and further reinforce the safety of air travel during COVID-19.”
“As before, customers are required to wear masks for the duration of their journey, including at the airport and on board the aircraft. Children under the age of two will continue to be exempt from the mask requirement,” the release said. “Consistent with U.S. government directives, individuals who refuse to wear a mask may be denied boarding, removed from the aircraft or subject to penalties under federal law, in addition to being barred from future travel with American.”
In his March 11 address to the Nation, Biden said: “We need everyone to get vaccinated. We need everyone to keep washing their hands, stay socially distanced, and keep wearing the masks as recommended by the CDC.”
The Center for Disease Control issued a Jan. 29 order, under its authority from the Public Health Act, that became effective Feb. 2, which reads in part: “People must wear masks that cover both the mouth and nose when awaiting, boarding, traveling on, or disembarking public conveyances. People must also wear masks when entering or on the premises of a transportation hub in the United States.”
The order specifically rules out scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, or bandannas or even shirt or sweater collars, such as turtleneck collars pulled up over the mouth and nose.
Neil W. McCabe is a Washington-based national political reporter for The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. In addition to the Star Newspaper,