No mask, no flying, with only children under 2 exempt: Southwest

CHICAGO/WASHINGTON — Southwest Airlines said on Wednesday it was eliminating all exemptions from its face-covering requirement except for children under 2 years old, beginning July 27.

“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,” Southwest said in a statement.

United Airlines is also toughening its exemptions on face coverings, but said passengers could contact the airline ahead of time or at the airport if they believe they have a condition that prevents them from wearing one.

Delta Air Lines is requiring any exemptions to be cleared by a doctor before flying.

The Southwest order comes as more governors are requiring residents to wear masks at nearly all times outside their homes.

Southwest also said it is rolling out a thermal screening trial at its homebase airport, Dallas Love Field, to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Major U.S. airlines have been unsuccessful to date in convincing the Trump administration to back temperature testing for airline passengers.

On May 9, Airlines for America, a group representing major airlines, backed the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s checking the temperatures of passengers and customer-facing employees.

At a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence on June 27, the administration did not endorse government temperature checks but officials said they would keep an open mind.

Questions remain about what the government would do if someone had a high temperature and was turned away from a flight, and what agency would be responsible.

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