These days, people wearing masks for protection from COVID-19 are few and far between.

However, airports still mandate the use of masks – Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA) included. This week, in the airport’s monthly information newsletter, PTIA officials reminded everyone that, while masks are coming off everywhere else, COVID-19 restrictions still apply at the airport.

PTIA is also enforcing other COVID-19 restrictions that have pretty much faded away everywhere else in society.

PTIA Executive Director Kevin Baker said he’s not sure when the mask rule will be dropped for airports, but he added that it won’t happen before mid-April.

“The next consideration date is April 18, I think,’ Baker said, thinking correctly.   “I sure hope that’s the end of it.”

In mid-March, the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) extended the federal mask mandate for at least another month into April.  That meant everyone had to keep wearing face masks at airports and on planes.

The mask mandate for airports and passenger planes was first put in place in January of 2021.  Originally, it was set to expire on March 18, but it was extended for at least another month.

Elsewhere in society ­– like jampacked college basketball arenas, for one – masking and social distancing rules are no more.

In March, the TSA also announced masks would also still be required on forms of transportation like trains and buses.

On Wednesday, March 30, PTIA sent out a reminder about its rules that must be followed when flying even though these types of restrictions have faded away elsewhere and makes going to the airport like stepping back in time.

  • Face Coverings. All airport passengers and guests must wear face coverings while on airport property “unless a face covering would be inappropriate due to the age of a child or a medical condition.”
  • Arrive Early. This helps prevent crowding that is often caused by last-minute rushing before scheduled flights.
  • Limit Touchpoints. This means, among other things, using mobile boarding passes on smart phones.
  • Social Distancing. Passengers are to keep at least six feet of space “from non-household members in all areas of the airport.”

There are also rules for non-passengers.  Anyone picking up or dropping off passengers should avoid entering the terminal when possible: “Instead, they should use the short-term parking in front of the main terminal, stay in their vehicles and communicate by cell phone unless they are assisting unaccompanied minors, passengers with disabilities, or others who need assistance.”