Majority of Americans want masks for travelers: AP-NORC poll


A traveler makes their way through a security ID and ticket check at Love Filed in Dallas, Tuesday, April 19, 2022. The major airlines and many of the busiest airports dropex their requirements after a Florida judge struck down the CDC mandate and the Transportation Security Administration announced it wouldn’t enforce its 2021 security directive. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

(NewsNation) — A majority of Americans continue to support a mask requirement for people traveling on airplanes and other shared transportation, a new Associated Press-NORC poll found.

A ruling by a federal judge put the government’s transportation mask mandate on hold and prompted the Transportation Security Administration to announce it would stopped enforcing the requirement earlier this week. The Justice Department went on to announce Tuesday that it would not appeal the ruling unless the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determines a travel mask mandate is still necessary.

A poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed that despite opposition, which included verbal abuse and physical violence against flight attendants, 56% of Americans favored requiring people on planes, trains and public transportation to wear masks, compared with 24% opposed and 20% who said they were neither in favor nor opposed.

Interviews for the poll were conducted Thursday to Monday, shortly before a federal judge in Florida struck down the national mask mandate on airplanes and mass transit. Airlines and airports immediately scrapped their requirements that passengers wear face coverings.

A recent NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll made similar findings, showing that a majority of Americans would be in favor of a new mask mandate in the event of a new COVID-19 surge. The NewsNation/Decision Desk poll specifically revealed that:

  • 39.3% would be strongly in favor
  • 24.8% would be somewhat in favor
  • 15.2% would somewhat oppose
  • 20.6% would strongly oppose

The majority of respondents also said that if COVID-19 cases surged again, they would be in favor of a new vaccine mandate, according to the NewsNation/Decision Desk poll.

According to The Associated Press-NORC poll, there’s wide partisan divide regarding travel mask mandates. Among Democrats, 80% favor and just 5% oppose the requirement. Among Republicans, 45% are opposed compared with 33% in favor, with 22% saying neither.

The continued support among Americans overall for mandating masks on transportation comes even as worries about COVID-19 are among their lowest points of the past two years. Just 20% now say they’re very or extremely worried that they or a family member will be infected. That’s down slightly since 25% said the same just a month ago and from 36% in December and January as the omicron variant was raging. Another 33% now say they are somewhat worried, while 48% say they’re not worried at all.

Employed Americans also were divided over whether people should be required to wear masks at in-person workplaces, according The Associated Press-NORC poll.

Thirty-four percent said they were in favor of that requirement, while 33% were opposed and 33% were neither in favor nor opposed. Among workers who were Democrats, 48% were in favor and 18% were opposed. Among workers who are Republicans, 53% are opposed and 18% are in favor.

The AP-NORC poll of 1,085 adults was conducted April 14-18 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ polled 1,038 registered voters on April 17 and 18, using the Samplify online voter panel. Margins of error were on average about 3% but vary per question because the number of people who answered each question is different (learn more about why margins of error matter here).

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