SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The mask mandate for public transportation is being extended, to help combat this new variant.

The Biden Administration made the announcement Thursday morning, saying extending the mandate will help decrease the spread of omicron. The federal mask mandate for public transportation was set to expire January 18th, but now will to be extended into mid-March.

Under the mandate, face coverings are required on buses, trains, and plane, and of course airports and train stations. This comes as the omicron variant cases emerge in the U.S. Infectious disease experts in agreement that masking up will be effective against Omicron.

Dr. Megan Gallagher an Infectious Disease Physician at Baystate Health told 22News, “We really need to have a multi-pronged approach for helping to combat Covid-19. Vaccines are really important part of the approach and boosters, but the common sense approaches that have been working, wearing your mask.”

You don’t want to potentially expose someone to what you could be carrying.

The U.S. travel ban from the African countries with confirmed omicron cases, will continue. With the first omicron case in California, that traveler came back from South Africa before the ban went into effect.

The Biden Administration is also weighing new testing requirements for international travelers to help protect Americans from the new variant. No final decisions have been made on that yet.