TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Travelers at Tampa International Airport were met with new rules ahead of their flights following President Joe Biden’s announcement of his COVID-19 action plan.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration has increased the range of civil penalties that may be imposed on people violating the federal mask mandate in airports with fines of $500 to $1,000 for first offenders and $1,000 to $3,000 for second offenders.
“I am all about making things safe for people to the best of my capacity. So if I am in public areas and asked to wear a mask, I do,” said Monica Jacobs Driskell.
“If you don’t want to follow the rules, then don’t fly,” said Franklin Newton.
People like Driskell and Newton were on board with the new rules. However, some people like Marilyn Westropp wanted to give President Biden a piece of her mind.
“I’m a healthy person and you want me to wear this. You are stopping me from breathing,” Westropp said. “Putting a mask on a healthy person makes no sense to me. The mask does not work, we did the six feet away and that does not work. Vaccinated people are spreading the germs and the COVID and it does not work. What is it you want from us? You are taking our freedom away, and this is unconstitutional.”
The harsher penalties might be welcome news for the country’s airline executives, who say the delta variant-driven spike in COVID cases is hurting bookings and hampering the industry’s recovery.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian said Thursday that the company is struggling with a lack of business and international flyers.
The greater fines for those who break the mask mandate are part of the Biden administration’s sweeping efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19.
On Thursday, Biden announced that along with increased masking requirements, the “Path Out of the Pandemic” will include raising the vaccination rate in the U.S., providing booster shots, keeping schools safely open, increasing testing, protecting the economic recovery, and improving care for those with COVID-19.
The federal mask mandate that the TSA implemented earlier this year will remain in effect until January 2022.