The majority of American adults (57%) say that airlines and public transportation services should require travelers to wear masks. This comes from a new Pew Research Center survey, where a separate 42% of Americans think that travelers should not have to wear masks in these situations.
If you recall, a federal judge in Florida struck down the CDC’s mask mandate for public transportation in April 2022. The Department of Justice is in the process of appealing this disease. Since the decision by that federal judge, the CDC has continued to recommend people to wear masks in these settings, in addition to other settings. In the meantime, airlines and other businesses can make their own rules, but most say that masks are optional.
The Face Mask Divide
Since the March 2020 lockdown, there has been a divide on mask wearing. For many Americans, the support of face masks depended on the political party to which they belonged. Others didn’t let politics sway their decision, but rather thought the entire pandemic to be a hoax. According to the recent Pew Research Center survey, 80% of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic were in favor of masks on public transportation and airplanes. A contrasting 29% of Republicans and independents who lean Republican say that masks should not be required.
Additional information from the survey found that most people who supported mask wearing received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (66%). The unvaccinated (25%) in the survey were against future masking mandates. Even among the unvaccinated, though, there are different views on masking policies. About 60% of unvaccinated Democrats think that people should still wear masks on airplanes and public transportation. Compare that to the 12% of unvaccinated republicans who do not support mask wearing. People who were, or are still, concerned about contracting COVID-19 were also in favor of mask policies. The same opinion applied to those who were scared of being hospitalized from COVID-19.
Do Americans Still Wear Masks On Planes?
During the omicron surge in January 2022, about 61% of American adults said that they still wore masks in stores and businesses. The numbers have since declined for mask wearing in the U.S., though. About 30% of Americans say that they wore a mask “all or most of the time” over the past month in stores and other businesses. To this day, more Democrats or Democrat-leaning independents (42%) report frequent mask use.
Even though there has been an overall decline in mask use on planes, travel experts report that many travelers continue to wear masks on flights. Many clientele still opt to wear masks, while others enjoy the flexibility to do so. That said, mask use is much lower on flights to certain areas of the country. With climbing COVID numbers, travel experts can only hope that people take more precautions during travel, especially as they head into summer travel season. Families with younger children, or people who are at risk of severe illness, are more likely to wear masks on flights.
Americans Aren’t As Bothered By Unmasked Travelers
According to a recent White House COVID-19 press briefing, over 32% of Americans live in a county with medium or high COVID-19 community risk level. In medium- or high-risk areas, the CDC encourages people to wear a mask in indoor public settings. It also states that any areas with COVID-19 risk, people can always opt to mask up for their own protection. The Pew survey showed that more American adults have become more tolerant of others who don’t want to wear a mask in public indoor settings. 63% of Americans do not really mind when mask-less people are around them. This contrasts the 72% of Americans who were bothered by people not wearing masks in November 2020.
As more Americans take to the skies, rails, and roadways for summer travel, the hope is that people don’t shame or judge others for masking decisions. Pilots continue to ask people to respect everyone’s mask choice, regardless if it differs from their own. It seems that tensions have eased since the early days of airline mask disagreements and disputes. Let’s be as healthy as we can be to keep our immune systems strong during summer travel.