Boston.com readers are ready for air travel without masks.
Mask requirements for many indoor spaces has been lifted, but the mask mandate for travel remains in place. When we asked readers if they think the mask mandate on planes should end, more than 3,500 answered: 2,207 said yes, 1,405 said no, and 37 said it depends.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) extended the mask mandate for travel to April 18 so the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has more time to develop policies based on current COVID-19 case levels and the risk of new variants, according to the Associated Press.
Last month, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, in a letter to the CDC and TSA, asked that the mask mandate for travel remain in place and the chief executives of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines asked President Biden to allow the mask mandate at airports and planes to expire.
Here is what readers had to say about the mask mandate for travel.
Responses lightly edited for length and clarity.
Yes, drop the mandate
“I think it’s past time — and this is part of the urgent need to return to normal,” Shawn S. from Natick.
“With the vaccines and therapeutics available it’s time to get back to normal,” wrote Tom from Dedham.
“It’s been dropped everywhere else,” wrote Roman from Boston. “Planes have filters pushing new air in and out every couple of minutes. You’re more likely to catch Covid in a grocery store than a plane.”
“I’m vaccinated/boostered and feel that those who could do the same should do so if they want to interact in public spaces,” wrote George from Medford. “I understand some folks cannot or are at a higher risk so they should feel free to continue to wear a mask.”
“How any individual protects themselves from illness or injury is up to them and their care givers,” wrote Sandy H. of Nanuet, N.Y. “Nobody is preventing mask wearing for those who prefer, but the mandate isn’t fair to those who don’t believe in it’s effectiveness or to whom it is a burden. Covid is a fact of life now. It’s time to accept that and trust people to do what is right for themselves.”
“Mask mandates are already gone everywhere else, keeping the airplane mandate in place is not useful and it’s also not consistent with the science,” wrote Guillermo from Boston. “At this point, the mandate is purely performative and should be allowed to expire.”
“I would absolutely feel safe traveling without a mask,” wrote Andrew from North of Boston. “And as a person with hearing-related disabilities who struggles to communicate with masks, I would actually feel safer doing so.”
“I would feel completely safe traveling without a mask and much happier and easier to travel,” wrote Rita J. from Avon. “Waiting for it to end so that travel will be easier as well as testing requirements to end as well. OVER THIS! People can decide for themselves to wear a mask — should not be required as of now.”
No, don’t drop the mandate
“Depends on the prevalence of the virus. We can’t ignore it away even if we want to… I prefer to listen to actual data from scientists who are trained and do this for a living,” wrote Rick H. from Concord.
“I have a 2-year-old who is still ineligible to be vaccinated — I need to keep her safe!” wrote SJ from Boston.
“There is no way to know for sure if someone has Covid and could give it to me unless they took a PCR, isolated, then went straight to the airport,” wrote Shawna R. of Somerville. “I have a high risk mother and toddler. If I got Covid and gave it to them, my mother especially is at high risk of severe Covid complications and/or death. The least people can do is wear a mask. I do it even though I literally don’t leave my house. What about our youngest children and most vulnerable people? Do their lives not matter anymore? Plane travel is sometimes by emergency and unavoidable. The people who need our help the most shouldn’t be locked out of that because people are too selfish and lazy to wear masks.”
“This pandemic is NOT over!” wrote Sharon F. from Groton.
“Because we are in the middle of a pandemic of a deadly, airborne, highly-contagious virus. Duh,” wrote Ellen from Vermont.
“We have learned over and over that abandoning easy and low cost precautions before the world is vaccinated and we can get control over new variants will only cause economic pain and human suffering,” wrote Emily, who did not provide her hometown.
“Another rise in Covid is happening and our youngest is also not eligible for vaccinations. Nor is our overall vaccination rate nearly high enough,” wrote Francis L. from Watertown.
“No, I would not be willing to travel without the protection of universal masking on airplanes,” wrote Becks C. of Boston. “Covid is airborne, the pandemic is not over, and in addition to older at risk individuals no children under 5 are able to be vaccinated. My baby’s health matters and I am unwilling to compromise her safety because selfish people find the simple act of mask wearing to be too much to protect our most vulnerable.”
“I personally would wear one regardless of the order being dropped,” wrote J B. of Dover. “Up to the individual and whether they value their health and those around them.”
“If you are vaccinated and boosted then masks should not be required,” wrote Brian from Millis.
“I am a young healthy individual with no underlying conditions and have been both vaccinated and boosted,” wrote an unnamed reader. “I would be fine with it.”
Boston.com occasionally interacts with readers by conducting informal polls and surveys. These results should be read as an unscientific gauge of readers’ opinion.