Alaska Airlines no longer making face mask exemptions, banning passengers who refuse

Alaska Airlines has intensified its mask mandate as the coronavirus pandemic continues, requiring all passengers over the age of 2 to wear a facial covering — with no exceptions.

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The Seattle-based airline announced the change on Wednesday, confirming that all customers must wear a cloth mask or facial covering over their mouth and nose at all times during the travel journey, other than while briefly eating or drinking. The latest health and safety update takes effect on Friday.

If a passenger is “unable or unwilling” to wear a mask, they will not be allowed to travel, Alaska warned. Passengers who refuse to wear a mask after boarding will also be suspended from future flights.

"We all need to look out for each other during this health emergency, and the best way we can do that – and prevent the spread of the virus – is to simply wear a mask or face covering when we're around each other," Max Tidwell, the carrier’s vice president of safety and security, said in a statement.

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"Safety remains priority No. 1 for Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air. Our tougher policy shows how important this issue is to us and our guests. If you don't wear a mask, you won't be flying with us."

Passengers who say they cannot wear masks for medical reasons can no longer claim exemptions with Alaska, according to a release from the company. 

At present, Alaska is providing face masks to passengers who forget face masks, while banning facial coverings with exhaust valves, as well as masks that do not cover the nose and mouth, and face shields without masks.

The carrier joins American Airlines, Southwest AirlinesJetBlue and Spirit Airlines in barring customers from claiming exemptions to wearing the PPE amid the pandemic.

Meanwhile, United Airlines, Delta Airlines and JetBlue have also recently banned face masks with direct exhaust valves in the fight against the viral disease.

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