Flyers Refusing to Wear Masks Face Extended ‘Zero-Tolerance’ Stance

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U.S. aviation regulators will continue what they call a “zero-tolerance” policy against passengers who refuse to wear face masks on airline flights.

The Federal Aviation Administration in January announced it was being more aggressive about enforcing existing federal laws that require passengers to follow the crew’s safety instructions, but the policy expired at the end of March.

“The policy directs our safety inspectors and attorneys to take strong enforcement action against any passenger who disrupts or threatens the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from fines to jail time,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in an emailed statement. “The number of cases we’re seeing is still far too high, and it tells us urgent action continues to be required.”

The extension of the policy means it will last at least as long as the federal government requires mask use on flights, the agency said in the statement. The FAA has begun about 20 enforcement cases and is reviewing more than 450 cases of reported unruly passengers.

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