Major US Airlines, Amtrak Drop Mask Mandate for Travelers After Judge Strikes Down CDC Order

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TSA says won’t enforce masks on public transport

The Biden administration’s mask mandate will not be enforced while federal agencies review a federal judge’s ruling that the mandate was unlawful, an official said Monday as major U.S. airlines and other transportation entities moved to drop the policy.

“The agencies are reviewing the decision and assessing potential next steps. In the meantime, today’s court decision means CDC’s public transportation masking order is not in effect at this time,” a Biden administration official told news outlets on April 18, referring to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said separately that, effective immediately, the agency would stop enforcing its directive that required masks at airports and on planes.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, a Trump appointee, ruled earlier Monday that the CDC exceeded its authority with the mask mandate and inappropriately did not seek public comment before imposing the order.

Major airlines, including United Airlines, said they were no longer requiring masks.

“Masks are no longer required on domestic flights, select international flights (dependent upon the arrival country’s requirements) or at U.S. airports,” United said on Twitter, adding that people may continue donning face coverings if it makes them feel more comfortable.

Alaska Airlines said in a statement that face masks are “now optional on our planes and in airports” effectively immediately.

“While we are glad this means many of us get to see your smiling faces, we understand some might have mixed feelings,” the airline said. “Please remember to be kind to one another and that wearing a mask while traveling is still an option.”

“It has been a long 24 months with nearly constant change. I could not be prouder of our frontline employees who have handled every pivot focusing on safety and the care we’re known for,” said Max Tidwell, vice president of security at the company. “We’re also thankful for our guests who remained considerate, patient and stood by us throughout every twist and turn.”

By Isabel van Brugen

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