San Francisco Chronicle
Fines double for mask scofflaws
The U.S. is doubling the fine for people who break the rule requiring masks on planes, trains and other forms of public transit to slow the spread of COVID-19.
First-time offenders would face a potential fine of $500 to $1,000 and second-time offenders could pay $1,000 to $3,000 under rules that the Transportation Security Administration said went into effect Friday.
The fine currently starts at $250 and can go up to $1,500 for repeat offenders.
“If you break the rules, be prepared to pay,” President Biden said as he announced the increase during a speech Thursday outlining sweeping new federal vaccine requirements as part of an effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant.
The president also rebuked people who have been taking out their anger about the mask requirement on flight crews.
“And by the way, show some respect,” he said. “The anger you see on television toward flight attendants and others doing their job is wrong. It’s ugly.”
The mask mandate has been controversial and has led to many tense encounters between passengers who don’t want to wear a mask and flight attendants asked to enforce the rule. The Federal Aviation Administration said last month that airlines have reported 3,889 incidents involving unruly passengers this year, and 2,867 — or 74% — involved refusing to wear a mask.