The Transportation Security Administration has increased the penalty for travelers who ignore mask mandates on planes, trains and other modes of public transit.

First-time offenders face a potential fine of $500 to $1,000 and second offenders could be fined as much as $3,000, the TSA said Thursday.

The Department of Homeland Security said the new fines take effect Friday. The mask requirements will remain in place until at least Jan. 18.

“Wearing a mask protects the traveling public and all of the personnel who make the travel experience safe, secure and comfortable,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “We will continue to enforce the mask mandate as long as necessary to protect public health and safety.”

The goal of the increased penalties is to stem the surge of the delta variant of the coronavirus, TSA officials said.

Speaking on the subject, President Biden said Thursday that violators should “be prepared to pay.”

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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