OPINION — Recently, a Utah family was removed from their flight when their 4-year-old special needs son was not wearing a mask. This young family had explained the situation to the airline prior to boarding and had a medical exemption. Still, they were forced to leave because of President Joe Biden’s overreaching mask mandate that applies to all children ages two years and above.
Every parent knows the stress of traveling with a child. And everyone can understand that it’s near impossible to keep a 2-year-old in a mask for the entirety of a flight. Sadly, that is exactly what the federal government is forcing on children with the threat of removal.
These types of unfortunate incidents are hard to reconcile with the science that suggests children rarely contract, much less spread, COVID-19. The World Health Organization even recommends that children under the age of five not be required to wear a mask.
Nevertheless, one of Biden’s first executive orders mandates a strict mask requirement that represents a needless form of government overreach.
To minimize the heavy hand of government from being used to justify such cruelty (and in a bid to legalize common sense), I have brought legislation – the No Mask Mandate for Kids Act – to prohibit federal agencies and administrations from imposing a mask requirement for kids on domestic transportation.
The bill does not preclude individual airlines, transit agencies or local governments from instituting such requirements. We can’t guarantee a future pandemic wouldn’t demand such restrictions. But they should not be implemented by our vast, unaccountable federal bureaucracy. They should be deliberated and enforced at a level more accessible to the people they impact.
In the case of this pandemic, the World Health Organization has been very clear about the science. Their advice, they explain, “is based on the safety and overall interest of the child and the capacity to appropriately use a mask with minimal assistance.”
The WHO goes on to warn that even in situations in which a child under five years of age has clearly been exposed to someone who is ill, the child’s mask-wearing should be closely supervised. “If the child wears a mask, a parent or guardian should be within direct line of sight to supervise the safe use of the mask.”
Kids can and should wear masks if families, states and industries decide that circumstances demand it. But we don’t need overly broad mandates from the federal level to dictate this process. The No Mask Mandate for Kids Act is simple, commonsense legislation: Federal agencies should not be able to impose nonsensical mandates on children. Let’s put this decision back in the hands of industries, states, localities and families.
Submitted by REP. CHRIS STEWART, Utah congressional district 2.
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