Only half of Americans are comfortable with air travel even as their comfort with other activities ticks up—and even fewer want to fly internationally—a new Morning Consult poll finds, suggesting Covid-19 transmission on planes remains a big fear as the federal government potentially drops the mask mandate for airplanes and public transportation on Monday.
Morning Consult’s weekly tracking poll, conducted April 10 among 2,200 U.S. adults, found only 48% of respondents are comfortable flying on an airplane.
50% said they’re comfortable flying domestically and 37% are fine with flying internationally, which is up from 48% and 36% last week, respectively.
The share of Americans happy with flying, while low, is still close to a pandemic-era high: comfort with air travel hit a high of just 51% on March 6, and is up from 35% when the omicron variant surged in January.
Respondents were also skittish about other forms of public transportation covered by the federal mask mandate, with only 55% comfortable taking a train and 46% taking a bus.
That’s lower than most other activities: 57% say they feel comfortable going to a party, 61% to a wedding, 65% going to the office, 75% going to a restaurant, 60% going to the movies and 71% going to shopping malls, for instance.
Americans also continue to be hesitant about going to sporting events and concerts, however, with only 50% and 48% comfortable with those activities, respectively.
28%. That’s the share of respondents who said they’re “very” concerned about Covid-19 outbreaks, which marks a record low since Morning Consult started asking the question in January 2020.
What To Watch For
The federal mask mandate, which applies to airplanes, public transportation and airports nationwide, is set to expire on April 18, and it’s still unclear what will be required of travelers after that point. The Biden administration said when it last extended the mandate in March that it would use the extension to develop a “framework” to determine when masks should be required in the future, which might be based on factors like rates of severe illness or if new variants are emerging. With Covid-19 cases now ticking up in a number of areas amid the spread of the highly transmissible omicron BA.2 subvariant—which has already caused some mask mandates to return—that could be enough to keep the mask order in place. “It is absolutely on the table,” White House Covid-19 Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha told Today Monday when asked if the mask mandate could be extended.
The Morning Consult poll is in line with other recent surveys showing Americans are viewing Covid-19 as less of a problem, with an Axios/Ipsos poll released Tuesday finding just 9% see the pandemic as a “serious crisis” right now. While fewer Americans than ever are wearing masks and backing mask mandates as a result, per the Ipsos poll, the federal mask mandate for planes and public transportation has remained more popular. A recent Harris poll found 60% of Americans want to keep it in place, and a Morning Consult poll similarly found at least three in five respondents support customers and employees wearing masks on planes. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll was more split, however, with a narrow 51% majority saying they wanted the federal mask mandate to expire.
Tracking the Return to Normal: Travel (Morning Consult)
Extending Mask Mandate For Airplanes, Public Transportation ‘On The Table’, White House Says (Forbes)
Fewer Americans Than Ever Want Mask Mandates, Poll Finds — Despite Uptick In Cases (Forbes)
Survey: 6 Out Of 10 Americans Aren’t Ready For The Mask Mandate For Air Travel To End (Forbes)
Mask Mandates Are Coming Back In Some Places—And May Be Sticking Around For Air Travel (Forbes)
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