Southwest Airlines says its planes will carry only masked passengers – making yet another tightening of US airlines’ pandemic safety rules this week.
Southwest spokesperson Brian Parrish tells CNN the new policy takes effect Monday and will prohibit passengers from claiming medical or disability exemptions to the rule, which the airline currently allows.
“If a Customer is unable to wear a face covering for any reason (even a verifiable medical condition), we regret that we are unable to transport the Customer at this time, due to safety risk of asymptomatic COVID-19 transmission by Customers without face coverings,” the company’s updated mask policy for passengers reads. The airline announced Wednesday afternoon its policy has been updated.
The mask requirement will also apply to passengers in the airport — from check-in through baggage pick-up, Southwest said. (Masks are already required in some airports due to local rules.)
Only children under the age of two are exempt from the requirement, Parrish said.
Several major airlines have tightened their mask policies this week, offering competing health safety policies to the traveling public.
United Airlines said Wednesday its passengers will be required to wear a mask during the entire time they are in the 360 airports the airline serves.
Delta Air Lines said Monday that any passengers claiming a medical exemption from wearing a mask would need to consult by phone with an airline-approved doctor while at the airport.
Southwest’s announcement comes as it prepares to release its second quarter financials on Thursday.
There is no federal government regulation requiring passengers or crewmembers to wear masks when onboard planes.