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People wearing masks aboard a tram in the Miami International Airport in Florida on Sept. 3. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

President Biden directed the Transportation Security Administration on Thursday to double fines on travelers who refuse to wear masks.

Why it matters: It's part of the Biden administration's effort to control the coronavirus as cases and hospitalizations largely driven by the Delta variant surge nationwide.

  • A federal mandate requires travelers to wear masks on airplanes, trains, buses and other forms of public transportation.
  • Starting Friday, penalties for not wearing a mask will increase to between $500 to $1,000 for first offenders and $1,000 to $3,00o for second offenders.

What they're saying: "If you break the rules, be prepared to pay," Biden said in a speech. "And, by the way, show some respect. The anger you see on television toward flight attendants and others doing their job is wrong. It’s ugly."

The big picture: The Federal Aviation Administration has received 4,184 reports of unruly passengers so far in 2021, more than 70% of which were related to mask requirements on flights.

Go deeper: Biden mandates COVID vaccines for federal workers, with no option for testing

Go deeper

Updated Dec 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

OSHA vaccine mandate penalties will begin on Jan. 10

A health care worker administers a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a drive-thru site at Miami's Tropical Park on Dec. 16. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration said Saturday it will wait until Jan. 10 to begin issuing citations to companies that do not comply with its coronavirus vaccine mandate.

Driving the news: OSHA also said that it would not issue citations for its COVID-19 testing requirements before Feb. 9 "so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard," the agency said.

Dec 18, 2021 - Health

WHO: Omicron cases doubling in 1.5 to 3 days in places with local spread

People wear face masks as they walk in a pedestrian street in the city of Cologne, Germany, on Dec. 18. Photo: Ina FassBender/AFP

The Omicron variant has been detected in 89 countries and has a "substantial growth advantage" over the Delta variant, the World Health Organization announced.

State of play: COVID-19 cases detected with the newest variant are doubling every 1.5 to 3 days in areas where there is community spread, WHO said.

Updated Dec 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Federal appeals court reinstates Biden's vaccine mandate for large companies

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Friday reinstated the Biden administration's vaccine mandate for businesses with at least 100 workers.

Why it matters: The administration paused enforcement of the mandate, which requires companies to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated or tested weekly by Jan. 4, 2022, after a separate federal circuit court last month deemed it "staggeringly overbroad."