American Airlines is the latest major carrier to ban face masks with one-way valves or vents, following similar mandates from airlines including United, Delta and JetBlue.
The announcement comes shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance on the issue, advising against any masks that feature valves or vents.
“Wearing a face covering is a responsibility we all share. An effective covering, worn properly, is one of the best ways we can control the spread of COVID-19 to protect our team members and customers,” said Alison Taylor, the chief customer officer at American Airlines, in a media release issued Wednesday. “Since American began requiring face coverings in early May, the vast majority of customers have welcomed our continuing efforts to strengthen the policy based on the CDC’s guidance.”
In addition, American Airlines currently bans masks made with materials that do not prevent the discharge of respiratory droplets, such as mesh or lace. Per the policy, face shields on their own are also not acceptable substitutes for face coverings.
Those without masks will be provided with one upon request, while “those unwilling to comply with American’s face covering policy at any time during their journey may be denied boarding or barred from future travel for the duration of this policy,” per the announcement.
American’s latest policy goes into effect on Aug. 19.
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Several fellow carriers have already announced similar bans, including United and JetBlue, both of which announced their policies in early August, and Delta, which announced its ban on valved masks in late July.
Passengers on these major airlines are still allowed to briefly remove their masks for eating or drinking. Those under the age of 2 may also be exempt.
News of American’s new policy comes only days after the CDC updated its guidance on effective masks, and advised against valved versions.
“The purpose of masks is to keep respiratory droplets from reaching others to aid with source control. Masks with one-way valves or vents allow exhaled air to be expelled out through holes in the material. This can allow exhaled respiratory droplets to reach others and potentially spread the COVID-19 virus,” the federal agency states in its guidance.
“Therefore, CDC does not recommend using masks if they have an exhalation valve or vent.”
Fox News' Madeline Farber and Cortney Moore contributed to this report.