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Airlines adjust mask policies to meet latest CDC guidelines for passengers with disabilities
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Airlines adjust mask policies to meet latest CDC guidelines for passengers with disabilities

Airlines are adjusting their mask policies to align with a recent government mandate — but in some cases, those policies might be becoming less strict.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, major airlines began instituting their own policies for enforcing the wearing of face masks on their planes. While some airlines have allowed passengers with medical conditions to go mask-free, others mandated that everyone over the age of 2 must wear a mask.

The Centers for Disease Control recently issued an order that went into effect on Monday, requiring all travelers to wear masks while flying. Travelers are also required to wear masks that cover their mouth and nose while at major transportation hubs.

The order, however, exempts some people from having to wear masks, including those with a disability who either physically can’t wear a mask or can’t safely wear a mask “because of the disability as defined by the Americans With Disabilities Act.” As the CDC notes, however, the Americans With Disabilities Act only allows for a very “narrow exception” in such cases.

In response to the new CDC order, some airlines have adjusted their mask-wearing policies. American Airlines announced a new policy that allows passengers with disabilities to be exempt from wearing masks, provided that they contact the airline’s Special Assistance team at least 72 hours before their flight.

“Exemptions will require documentation from a licensed health care provider, as well as proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three calendar days of departure or proof of recovery from COVID-19. Additionally, American will update its guidelines for acceptable mask types to prohibit bandanas and gaiters,” the airline wrote…

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