Hotels are dropping mask requirements

If you ask me, wearing a mask during a hotel stay is even more annoying than a plane ride.

On a (domestic) plane ride, I more or less forget I’m even wearing a mask as I remain stationary listening to music or an audiobook.

When staying at hotels, I constantly found myself forgetting to grab my mask as I ran in and out of my hotel rooms (arms often full) and struggled to communicate with staff members between the masks and plexiglass installations.

To me it made sense that masks would be more of a necessity in a hotel than a plane but it was still twice as annoying.

Luckily, some hotels have decided to start dropping the mask requirement for fully vaccinated individuals.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association, a trade organization that oversees 27,000 members from hotels like Marriott and Hyatt, is suggesting that guests who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear a mask and no longer have to social distance.

“In light of the recent CDC announcement that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in most settings, our Safe Stay guidelines will relax mask requirements for guests who are fully vaccinated,” Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, said.

Unvaccinated guests are still required to wear facemasks and to continue social distancing.

Reportedly, the hotels will not be asking for a verification of vaccination status, a trend which seems to be setting the standard for these new rules.

Here’s a look at what some of the major hotels are doing, according to View from the Wing.

Marriott is no longer requiring masks indoors for fully vaccinated guests at US properties except where masks are required by law.

Hyatt also no longer requires vaccinated guests to wear masks indoors at US properties.

Hilton seems like they are being a bit more ambiguous regarding masks as a spokesperson stated:

Hilton Team Members in the United States will continue to wear masks when interacting with guests indoors or in public areas on property.

As guidelines begin to be relaxed around the world, our hotels will ask guests and visitors to practice social distancing and wear face coverings only where it makes sense to do so, including in indoor public areas and in jurisdictions where it remains required.

This is yet another major sign that things are starting to get back to normal for travelers, at least here in the US.

I would expect that there will be a good deal of confusion for many travelers over the next few weeks to months as these rules shake out, though.

At some of these places you’ll still need to make sure you are aware of the local laws and ordinances which may require you to wear a mask indoors. So keep that in mind.

It is still odd to me that masks are still required on planes even though the air is considered to be much more filtered than say, a hotel elevator. But it’s still looking like we may have to wait until September for mask requirements to drop for federal transportation.


Fines being enforced for not wearing masks

The city of Miami, Florida is imposing fines for refusing to wear face coverings and repeat offenders could be liable to pay up to $500.

The new mask policy will have a tiered system for fines.

The first offense for not covering up will result in a net fine of $50 and a second offense will result in a $150 fee.

Those who continue to violate the measure will be subject to up to $500 in fees and could even be arrested.

“The only way to ensure compliance in some way shape or form is you have to have a heavy hand,” City Manager Art Noriega said Thursday.

Reportedly, these fines will go to collection agencies so refusing to pay them could result in damage to credit reports, so there are some real consequences here.

There is a lot of scientific support showing that wearing masks prevent coronavirus transmission.

Masks are not perfect but there is a lot of evidence that they are effective at curtailing the spread of a virus like the coronavirus.

Here are what a couple of studies have shown via BI:

  • “A recent analysis of coronavirus outbreaks in 42 countries found that countries where mask wearing was common, like China and Japan, saw more modest outbreaks compared with nations that weren’t accustomed to the practice.”
  • “A model from the University of Washington predicted that the US could prevent about 33,000 coronavirus deaths by October if 95% of the population wore face masks in public.”
  •  Findings from Arizona State University showed that “broad adoption of even relatively ineffective face masks may meaningfully reduce community transmission of COVID-19” and that in NY, “up to 45% of projected deaths over two months could be prevented — even if the masks were only 50% effective.”
  •  “Indian researchers recently determined that a simple cloth mask “substantially decreases” the spread of virus particles when an infected person coughs or sneezes.”

So even if the masks being worn are not totally effective at containing virus particles from getting into the environment from your nose and mouth, they can still play a major role in decreasing the spread of the virus.

Still, a lot of people consider this to be infringing upon their freedom.

There also has not been a clear message regarding the effectiveness of masks from the beginning which has been problematic.

Top level health officials and groups like the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not recommend the use of face masks for the general public and have reversed their stance on whether or not people should wear masks.

That has resulted in people not trusting the advice being told to them.

Add in the fact that this virus and its threat to public safety have been highly politicized a pre-existing stigma on masks, potential health risks involved in wearing a mask, and you can see why a sizable segment of the population is essentially “anti-mask.”

I think more cities are going to come down harder on people who violate mask ordinances in terms of setting up mandatory requirements and potential fines.

However, I question whether or not those fines will be enforced since the focus is on safety and not so much coming down on violators hard.


TSA accused of hoarding over 1.3 million N95 masks

It’s no secret that protective gear for medical professionals has been in short supply and high demand over the past couple of months. You’ve probably seen article after article about different states and hospitals cutting it super close when it comes to PPE.

One of the most highly sought after items has been N95 masks.

These masks offer enhanced protections from basic surgical masks in that they protect the person wearing the mask from inhaling harmful particles (versus just preventing the person wearing the mask from spreading harmful particles to others). 

Because of that function, they are extremely vital for many healthcare professionals who are forced to come in to close contact with infected individuals.

Well, news just broke that TSA may have been hoarding over 1.3 million of these masks.

Airport traffic has dropped approximately 95% in the last couple of months and so there are far fewer airport security workers needed in airports across the country.

Last month, some TSA officials raised concerns about this huge stockpile of respirator masks. Charles Kielkopf, a TSA attorney in Columbus, Ohio, stated, “We don’t need them. People who are in an infectious environment need them. Nobody is flying […] You don’t take things for yourself. It’s the wrong thing to do,”

Kielkopf filed a whistleblower complaint and alleged the TSA had engaged in gross mismanagement that represented a “substantial and specific danger to public health.”

Most TSA workers have been wearing the more basic surgical masks and not N95 masks. TSA actually received more than a million N95 masks from Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Kielkopf and others suggested that the TSA should donate the N95s to hospitals last month but it looks like TSA stored many of its masks in its warehouse near DFW and sent the rest to empty airports.

TSA did release a statement stating, “With the support of CBP and DHS, in April, TSA was able to ensure a sufficient supply of N95 masks would be available for any officer who chose to wear one and completed the requisite training.”

So it sounds like they took efforts to ensure that all of their employees who wanted an N95 mask could get one.

But it looks like they did not account for the lack of demand from TSA employees. Reportedly, an internal TSA memo stated that the extra N95 masks were expected to last a month but it did not account for not account for the drastic decline in security officers working at airports.

But instead of shipping out the stockpile based on those trends, they decided to hold onto it.

Over 500 TSA employees have tested positive for coronavirus and a few have died so they have had their struggles with the outbreak. But when it comes to stockpiling over 1 million highly sought after N95 masks, that’s not a good look for TSA. 


US airlines are now beginning to require passengers to wear face masks

4/30/20 update:

US airlines are now beginning to require passengers to wear face masks and face coverings when flying. We recently saw JetBlue require passengers to wear such coverings and then today found out that Frontier Airlines and now Delta Airlines will be requiring passengers to wear masks starting next week.

The mask policy will also apply during other stages of travel like check-in, boarding and deplaning and in lounges.

Delta’s chief customer experience officer, Bill Lentsch, stated, “While we remain committed to our new standard of clean and to providing more space for our customers when they travel, we take seriously the CDC guidelines for adding this extra layer of protection. We believe this change will give customers and employees some additional comfort when traveling with us.”

United and American don’t currently require passengers to wear masks but they will be providing masks to some passengers and other materials like hand sanitizers. Southwest is also reportedly considering making the mask requirement mandatory.

Don’t be surprised if some of these airlines end up requiring masks for passengers very soon.




United Airlines just announced that it is going to require its flight attendants to wear masks or face coverings when on duty. This policy will apply to approximately 25,000 flight attendants and they will have to wear commercial facemasks or homemade masks.

United Airlines is the first major US carrier to require all flight attendants to wear a face covering or mask although other US airlines have put in similar policies. Previously, United Airlines had a policy to require masks but only on international flights that were heading to coronavirus hotspots.

The new policy comes as United Airlines has been working in coordination with the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA).

United stated, “In coordination with the AFA—starting on April 24—we will require that all flight attendants wear a face covering or mask to help protect themselves and customers on board our aircraft.”

The AFA, who has been largely responsible for prior changes like the banning of knives in cabin, has been busy making other recommendations and suggestions to make the workplace less risky for flight attendants.

Most significantly, they believe that all passengers should be required to wear facemasks on flights. They also want to put an end to leisure air travel until the pandemic is brought under control.

I will not be surprised to see other airlines implement a similar policy of requiring flight attendants to wear facemasks or coverings during flights (the AFA represents 50,000 flight attendants across 20 airlines.)

Requiring masks for all passengers is a different story, however.

I don’t think anyone can doubt that having a plane full of passengers wearing masks will be safer for both other passengers and other flight attendants.

But there is still an appreciable level of resistance in this country when it comes to requiring people to wear masks.  

Airline travel is already down so far right now, I can’t see airlines wanting to enforce another strict policy that might discourage travel on the airlines even more.

The ban on leisure travel is also another contentious issue. It is in line with the current recommendations from the government to avoid nonessential travel.

The tricky issue is going to be that we are just now starting to see some places open up and some of the less hit hotspots are going to be opening up soon. 

So very soon you may have travel between too low risk areas and banning travel like that could become very problematic.

Again, the airlines are struggling so much that I’m not sure I could see them giving up the few routes that actually might be somewhat safe.

And then there is the question of how to enforce the ban against leisure travel?

It’s a whole different can of worms but it will be interesting to follow how other airlines are impacted by these changes.