US Mask Mandate On Air Travel Struck Down

US Mask Mandate On Air Travel Struck Down

A federal judge in Florida has ruled against the Biden administration's mask mandate for aeroplanes and other forms of public transit, calling it unlawful.

US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle said the national public health agency had exceeded its legal powers in issuing the mandate.

Last week, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended the mask requirement until 3 May. Authorities advised the need to “monitor for any observable increase in severe virus outcomes as cases rise in parts of the country.”

Judge Mizelle is based in Florida, but federal judges can issue rulings that block nationwide government policies.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will not enforce the mask mandate on public transportation after the court’s ruling, a Biden administration official said. However, the CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks on public transit, the official said.

The sudden policy change has resulted in a confusing travel environment, with some companies dropping their mask mandate while others wait for clarification on the new guidance. 

Airlines Dropping Mask Mandate

Following the news of a federal judge's ruling, airlines are reacting by lifting mask mandates. 

It has been reported that United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines announced that masks would be optional on domestic flights and in airports, “effective immediately.”

Airlines for America, the industry’s lobbying arm, also chimed in, saying they were

“encouraged by the lifting of the federal transportation mask mandate” and that the carrier “look(s) forward to welcoming millions of travellers back to the skies this summer to reunite with loved ones, attend conferences or to take a vacation.”

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