Masked people cross the street to go into Bangor International Airport on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

Bangor International Airport has reinstated its mandatory mask policy for travelers, regardless of vaccination status, due to Penobscot County’s high COVID-19 transmission levels.

The airport began requiring people to wear masks indoors on Monday alongside other Bangor municipal buildings, according to the airport’s website. The Bangor School Department also readopted its mask policy the same day due to rising COVID-19 cases in Penobscot County.

Should the Centers for Disease Control and Protection drop Penobscot County’s COVID-19  community transmission level to medium or low, the city will return to an optional masking policy.

Bangor International Airport appears to stand out as an airport requiring masks after a federal judge last month struck down a federal mandate requiring people to wear face coverings on planes, trains, buses and other public transit.

While travelers must wear a mask in the Bangor airport, most major airlines, including those that offer service to and from Bangor, are no longer requiring passengers to wear a mask while on board, according to the airlines’ websites.

The Bangor airport dropped its mandatory mask policy less than a month ago after U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle’s ruling on the federal mandate, which left the decision over whether to require face coverings to individual agencies and businesses.

In the wake of that ruling, the Bangor Community Connector, Greater Portland METRO, the Portland International Jetport, the Casco Bay Lines ferry service, the Downeaster Amtrak, Greyhound, Megabus and Concord Coach Lines all moved to drop their face covering requirements.

While New York’s JFK and LaGuardia airports are still requiring travelers to wear masks, most major airports, including Boston Logan International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Washington, D.C.’s Dulles International Airport, haven’t reinstated their mask policies. Masks are still optional at the Portland International Jetport.

Penobscot County reported 806 new cases of COVID-19 last week, according to the CDC, and COVID-19 patients occupied just over 5 percent of the county’s staffed inpatient hospital beds.

Aside from Penobscot County, Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox, Hancock, Piscataquis and Aroostook counties all had high COVID-19 community transmission levels on Monday, according to the U.S. CDC.

Only Androscoggin County maintained a low community transmission level on Monday.


Kathleen O'Brien

Kathleen O'Brien is a reporter covering the Bangor area. Born and raised in Portland, she joined the Bangor Daily News in 2022 after working as a Bath-area reporter at The Times Record. She graduated from...