Local Mask Mandates Relax, But TSA Extension Means Masks Still Required for Travel
Cities and states across the U.S. are starting to ease up face mask restrictions as vaccination rates increase and infection rates decline. The CDC also said that fully vaccinated adults do not need to wear masks when outside and away from crowds.
As the outlook for the U.S. continues to improve, demand for branded face masks is certainly cooling. But American consumers and businesses will still need masks for various functions. Indoor mask mandates are still the norm in most major cities, and masks will still be required for travel as that industry rebounds. The TSA just announced that its mask mandate will remain in place through Sept. 13.
The federal mandate, which was set to expire on May 11, requires people to wear masks on commercial flights, buses and trains, as well as inside airports.
“The federal mask requirement throughout the transportation system seeks to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” senior TSA official Darby LaJoye said in a statement to NPR. “We will continue to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to evaluate the need for these directives and recognize the significant level of compliance thus far.”
Face masks went from being a fringe item to a must-have in the span of just a few weeks as COVID-19 reached the U.S. and health experts educated the population about how face masks helped to prevent the spread. Obviously, within promo, distributors and suppliers saw just how easy it was to put a logo on a face mask.
Suddenly, categories like food service and retail needed them, and they incorporated them into employee uniforms in some cases. As live sports returned, players and fans alike wore masks.
Now, travel is showing signs of return after essentially lying dormant for much of the last year. The TSA reported that 1.56 million people traveled through airport checkpoints last Friday, compared to a minuscule 171,000 that same day last year.
Numbers are still lower than pre-pandemic 2019, but on April 2, the TSA screened a pandemic-era-high 1,580,785 people across U.S. airports.
And while the CDC announced that fully vaccinated adults can now skip the mask when they’re outside and away from crowds, vaccinated adults are still advised to wear face masks during travel on public transportation.
Face masks might not be as big now as they were at the peak of the pandemic (probably a good thing overall). But, as the public learns more about viral transmission and prevention, wearing a face mask to prevent others at the grocery store from catching your cold could become more common.
Also, there is still such inconsistency among local mask mandates across the country. Even if it is relaxed on a state level, city ordinances could still exist. And rules vary from state to state, meaning there likely won't be any snap-of-the-fingers erasure of mask mandates, at least not any time soon. So masks will still be required within states and cities adhering to masking protocols.
It remains to be seen how those requirements will translate to demand for promo businesses, but many in promo expect the PPE category to be a permanent fixture in the industry moving forward.
"The cliché 'there ain’t no going back' could be applied to PPE," Jo-an Lantz, president and CEO of Geiger, told Promo Marketing for our 2021 State of the Industry Report. "While the product category may have peaked, people are more aware of how germs are spread and more sensitive to behaviors that could halt the spread. Unlike fad products (remember fidget spinners?), hand sanitizers, sanitizing cloths, masks and those cool mask lanyards will be a promo staple."