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An Alaska state senator is criticizing Alaska Airlines for requiring passengers to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a social media post, Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, referred to airline staff as “mask bullies” and the airline itself as “part of mask tyranny” after being asked by flight attendants to wear a mask aboard a recent flight.

Reinbold, who was returning to Alaska, said in a follow-up post that people should bypass the mandatory COVID tests for passengers flying into Alaska from Outside. “Sneak by if you are bold (for) they cannot force you,” she wrote. Both posts appeared on her personal Facebook page and spread from there.

Alaska Airlines, the principal air carrier in Alaska, has required passengers to wear masks since May.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Alaska health officials are urging people to wear masks, particularly when it is impossible for people to stay six feet apart from each other. Several scientific studies have proven that mask use reduces COVID-19 transmission.

Alaska is seeing surging COVID-19 case numbers, and Gov. Mike Dunleavy last week issued an emergency message to cellphones across the state.

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