flight mask mandate lifted

Taylor Staples

According to the Associated Press, Major airlines and many of the busiest airports rushed to drop their mask requirements yesterday after the Biden administration’s mandate was overturned by the US district judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa, who judged the rule as exceeding the authority of US health officials in the coronavirus pandemic.

She added that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rulemaking procedures.

Several US airlines announced that masks are now optional on their aircraft including Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines and JetBlue.

But the ruling still gave those entities the option to keep their mask rules in place, resulting in directives that could vary from city to city.

Passengers on a United Airlines flight from Houston to New York, for instance, could ditch their masks at their departing airport and on the plane but have to put them back on once they land at Kennedy Airport or take a subway.

The Biden administration says it will decide how to respond to the federal judge’s order after the mask mandate covering the airline and transportation sector was struck down. White House secretary Jen Psaki stated the decision is “disappointing” as “the CDC is recommending wearing a mask on public transit.” 

The CDC had actually recently extended the mask mandate, which was set to expire Monday, until May 3 to allow more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant of the coronavirus now responsible for the vast majority of cases in the U.S. But the court ruling puts that decision on hold.

Sleepy passengers on a Delta flight between Atlanta and Barcelona, Spain applauded when a flight attendant announced the news mid-flight over the ocean. 

A CBS Denver reporter, who was on the flight, Dillon Thomas, posted a video where a flight attendant says, “No one’s any happier than we are.” She added that people who wanted to keep on their masks were encouraged to do so.

Although major airports dropped their requirements, they still sided with the CDC is recommending that people be voluntarily masked. These major airports include Los Angeles International Airport and Salt Lake City International Airport. They will still be handing out masks to anyone who asks for one.

As for other public transport:

New York City’s public transit system plans to keep its mask requirement in place, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said it would make masks optional for riders on its buses and trains.

As of Monday evening, the website of ride-sharing company Lyft still said masks were required. And In an email to customers this morning, Uber said masks were recommended but no longer required.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was not directly involved in the case but has battled against many government coronavirus requirements, praised the ruling.

“Both airline employees and passengers deserve to have this misery end,” DeSantis tweeted.

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