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Airlines End Medical Exception for Face Mask Rule, Step Up Testing

Some of the largest airlines are changing their face mask and coronavirus-related policies.

For starters, Delta Air Lines plans to provide at-home COVID-19 tests for some of its employees.

Delta competitors Southwest and American Airlines will be tightening their rules on face masks, by ending exceptions that have been in place for medical reasons.

“We’re simply seeing too many exceptions to the (mask) policy. It has put our flight crews in a really tough spot and also made our customers pretty uncomfortable,” Southwest President Tom Nealon said Thursday.

The moves come as airlines attempt to reassure passengers and employees about safety, at a time when many people are afraid to fly.

Additionally, Delta will be expanding coronavirus testing at its hub airports, while providing at-home tests for its employees in the hard-hit states of Florida and Texas.

Reservations agents who do not work at hubs will also receive the at-home tests, according to the airline.

Delta expects to have tested all of its U.S. employees within the next four weeks.

Earlier this week, that airline began requiring passengers who claimed a medical exception to the face mask rule to go through new screening. That includes a phone call with a staff member at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.