Return of Indoor Mask Mandate Surprises Some Travelers at Oakland Airport

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The reinstatement of the indoor mask mandate in Alameda County is catching some travelers at Oakland International Airport off guard.

As of Friday, people in the county are required to wear a mask at most indoor settings, including the airport, amid a rise in COVID-19 cases.

The airport said it was surprised by the reintroduction of the mandate and is working to increase awareness. The mandate is particularly confusing for arriving passengers because federal law says people don't have to wear a mask on a plane. But once they're in the airport, they're in county territory, meaning they have to put a mask on.

The abrupt change has resulted in some confusion, acceptance and outright defiance at the airport.

"It would be nice if it was over, but it is what it is," Fred Underwood said.

Others expressed their frustration.

"This is ridiculous," Robert Work said.

The airport said the changes are being announced over PA systems, masks are available for travelers and signs to encourage compliance are in the works.

"Our kind of course of action here is just to ensure that communication is there so that passengers know what is expected," airport official Kaley Skantz said.

NBC Bay Area's Raj Mathai spoke to Velena Jones about how Alameda County residents reacted to the news of the mask mandate being reinstated.
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