Saturday, April 20, 2024

Survey: 6 Out Of 10 Americans Aren’t Ready For The Mask Mandate For Air Travel To End

Must Read

The federal mask mandate is due to expire on April 18. But multiple surveys show that the majority of Americans want it to stay.


In less than two weeks, on April 18, the federal mask mandate for public transportation is due to expire. The airline industry has been pushing the Biden administration to end the mandate, but multiple public surveys suggest that the majority of Americans are still not quite ready to see it go.

The mask mandate has been extended several times already, but many industry watchers think this time it’s a done deal. “I would be pretty surprised at this point if the mandate were to get extended again,” says Scott Keyes, founder of the deal-finding site Scott’s Cheap Flights.

Last month, the chief executives of the seven U.S. airlines — Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, United and Southwest — wrote to President Biden asking him to end the federal mask mandate that has been in place since February 2021 and to drop the pre-departure testing requirement for international travelers coming to the U.S.

“Much has changed since these measures were imposed and they no longer make sense in the current public health context,” the airline chiefs wrote, adding that the decline of hospitalization and death rates due to Covid-19 was a sure sign that “we have entered a different phase of dealing with this virus.”

But major surveys suggest that the majority of Americans are not there yet. Six out of 10 Americans (60%) support extending the mask mandate, according to a demographically weighted survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults fielded last weekend by The Harris Poll Covid-19 tracking survey.

Moreover, more than half of Americans have intense feelings on the mask mandate — and the breakdown is notable. Nearly a third of Americans (32%) say they “strongly support” extending the mask mandate for travel, compared to 19% who “strongly oppose” doing so.

The partisan differences are also telling. Among Democrats, 70% support keeping the mandate in place and 30% oppose. Among Republicans, it’s a clean 50/50 split.

Other surveys have revealed similar findings. A recent Pew Research Center survey shows that a majority of Americans not only support the mask mandate, they go further by also supporting a vaccine mandate for air travel. In a tracking survey fielded in late January, nearly six in 10 Americans (58%) said proof of vaccination should be required to fly.

Notably, the Pew Research Center has consistently found that vaccinated Americans, who now make up a significant majority of the country, are more than twice as likely (70%) than unvaccinated Americans (32%) to report wearing a mask in public places regularly.

Last month, a Morning Consult survey found that 60% of US adults believe travel and hospitality companies should require customers to wear masks—though that was down from 71% in January, at the peak of the omicron surge. Notably, however, those who plan to travel in the next three months are more likely to support keeping face mask mandates.

“The travel industry has reached an interesting inflection point,” wrote Matthew Howe, senior manager of travel intelligence at global intelligence company Morning Consult. “Americans are more interested in personal choice than mandates and prescribed personal responsibility. The one curveball is, of course, a new variant, given that omicron has already stagnated consumer comfort levels.”

Given the unpredictability of the pandemic, Morning Consult concluded it was too early to drop masks. “We believe travel brands should wait and see what the impact of Covid BA.2 is before eliminating mandates,” wrote Howe.

The airlines have often posited that frictions like mask-wearing and Covid testing hurt their business, but those claims have become harder to argue. With the mask mandate still in place, passenger volume has already returned to roughly 92% of pre-pandemic levels, according to throughput data from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

“My sense is that lifting the mask mandate will do very little, one way or another, when it comes to actual overall travel volume numbers,” says Keyes. “I don’t think there are many people who are not taking trips today because of the mask mandate. And I don’t think there are very many people who would not take trips on April 19 in the absence of a mask mandate.”

Indeed, since the pandemic began, the sole metric that has driven travel demand has been Covid-19 case numbers. Covid surges and demand have had a predictable inverse relationship: As Covid cases rise, demand falls; as Covid cases fall, demand rises.

In their letter to Biden, the airline chiefs correctly pointed out that the U.S. is in a much better place now than just a few months ago. After weeks of sharp decline, the number of new daily Covid-19 cases plateaued last month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the highly transmissible BA.2 Omicron variant is now the dominant strain in the country, but the agency does not currently believe a new wave of coronavirus cases in the U.S. is likely. Still, there is worry that other variants, like the new omicron XE variant sweeping through the U.K., could upend the apple cart if Covid cases rise again.

“The pandemic situation has improved massively from where we were,” says Keyes. “And so I think the question that a lot of folks would would be asking is: ‘If not now, when?’”

Read More

- Advertisement - Antennas Direct - Antennas Reinvented
- Advertisement -
Latest News

Weight Loss Drugs Should Be Taken With Diet and Exercise

People who take weight loss drugs should not neglect diet and exercise. Here's what to know...Read More
- Advertisement - Yarden: ENJOY $20 OFF of $150 or more with code 20YD150

More Articles Like This

- Advertisement -spot_img