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Jul 22, 2020

United Air expands face-mask requirement to airports, lounges

A traveler wearing a protective mask checks in at a United Airlines Holdings Inc. counter at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. United Airlines Holdings Inc. plans to boost its domestic schedule for August to 48% of last years level, from 30% in July, offering another sign of rebounding travel demand. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

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United Airlines Holdings Inc. is extending its mandatory face-covering policy from aircraft cabins to airports, bolstering efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The rule takes effect Friday at more than 360 airports served by the company and includes gate areas, baggage claim, United lounges and customer-service counters. Passengers who flout the requirement may be refused travel and barred from United flights “at least while the mask requirement is in place,” the company said in a statement Wednesday.

“The most important thing any of us can do to slow the spread of the coronavirus is to simply wear a mask when we’re around other people,” said Scott Kirby, United’s chief executive officer. The policy will also apply to children two years and older.

United joined an industry push in May to require customers to don face coverings while flying, as airlines sought to combat the virus and reassure customers anxious about the risk of infection in cramped jetliners. The pandemic has caused travel demand to collapse, triggering the worst crisis in the airline industry’s history.