American, Southwest end coronavirus face mask exemptions for passengers over age 2

American Airlines and Southwest Airlines will no longer be making medical exceptions to the face mask mandate

Attention, passengers – please fasten your seat belt, and your face mask.

American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have ended face mask exemptions for passengers over age 2 and will no longer be making medical exceptions as the coronavirus health crisis continues.

American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have ended face mask exemptions for passengers over age 2. (iStock)

The major carriers announced the news in separate statements released on Wednesday. Both airlines citing evolving guidance from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in making the decision.

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"Due to safety risk of asymptomatic COVID-19 transmission by individuals without face coverings, all customers must wear a face covering from the time they enter their departure airport and not remove it until they exit their arrival airport," American said.

The carrier's new policy will take effect on July 29, and include all airport areas where American operates, including Admirals Club lounges and on board all flights. The policy "does not allow for exemptions for those over 2 years old."

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AAL AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP, INC. 20.52 +0.76 +3.85%
LUV SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO. 50.65 +1.50 +3.05%

Face masks may only be removed, American continued, when the customer is eating or drinking at the airport or on the flight.

At Southwest, the updated requirement takes effect on July 27.

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"Due to the safety risk of COVID-19 transmission by individuals not wearing a face covering, Southwest will require that all Southwest Customers wear a face covering or mask over their nose and mouth, and there will be no exemptions to our face covering requirement, except for children under the age of two," the airline explained.

"If a Customer is unable to wear a face covering or mask for any reason, Southwest regrets that we will be unable to transport the individual."

Passengers can still remove their face mask "briefly" to eat, drink, or take medicine, Southwest added.

On Monday, Delta Air Lines began requiring customers who cannot wear a mask to go through a virtual health screening before being allowed to board a plane.

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Reuters described the stricter mandates as "the toughest policy yet among U.S. airlines," though United Airlines and Delta Airline Lines ask that any medical conditions are cleared before the flight.