Airlines Drop Mask Requirements After Mandate For Public Transportation Ruled 'Unlawful'

On Monday, a federal judge in Florida wrote in a court ruling that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mandate for travelers to wear masks on public transportation was “unlawful,” with a Biden administration official confirming that “TSA will not enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs at this time.”

The last of several travel mask mandate extensions was set to continue through to May 3, however, due to Monday’s ruling made by U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, who was appointed by Donald Trump in 2020, she ruled that the mandate “violates the procedures required for agency rulemaking.”

While the decision of whether passengers have to wear their masks during their travels remains up to the discretion of airlines and local transit agencies, many airlines such as Delta, United, American, and Alaska, along with railway company, Amtrak, have issued public statements that masks are now optional. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City is still requiring masks on public transportation, including subways, buses and commuter rails.

During Monday’s press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said of the ruling, “This is obviously a disappointing decision. The CDC continues recommending wearing a mask on public transit.” With COVID-19 cases gradually rising, Psaki added that the Biden administration will review the ruling. The Justice Departmenthas not shared a timeline regarding when they plan to appeal the decision.

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