According to R. Carter Langston, a T.S.A. spokesman, since February, when the T.S.A. first announced that everyone — except children under the age of two and people with certain disabilities — is required by law to wear masks on aeroplanes and in airports in the United States, the agency has received more than 4,000 reports of mask-related incidents.
However, he claims that only 126 people have been fined.
Also, while Mr. Biden’s announcement may give the impression that T.S.A. officers at airports are responsible for fining noncompliant travellers, Becky Esquivel, a T.S.A. officer at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas and vice president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1250, a union representing government employees, says that is not the case. Though TSA agents may request that passengers wear masks while screening their luggage at security, they do not have the authority to issue a ticket to anyone who refuses on the spot. TSA agents also do not board planes, where many of the most tense mask encounters have occurred.
“We’re not the mask police,” Ms. Esquivel said.
So who are the “mask police?”
This is dependent on where someone is when they are not wearing a mask properly. The federal mask requirement applies not only to airports and planes, but also to trains, buses, and other modes of public transportation.
T.S.A. agents are supposed to remind people to wear masks at airport checkpoints, according to Mr. Langston, the agency’s spokesman. If those individuals flatly refuse, the agent has the authority to deny them entry to the gate.
Typically, politely asking people to pull up their masks or cover their noses correctly does the trick, according to Ms. Esquivel, possibly because it is clear that if they break the rules at that point, they will not be able to board their flight.