September 30, 2022

ilpuntontc

Just Do Travel

Fight over travel mask mandate left to CDC | Health and Science

2 min read

The Justice Department said Tuesday it will not appeal a federal district judge’s ruling that ended the nation’s federal mask mandate on public transit unless the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes the requirement is still necessary.

In a statement released a day after a Florida judge ended the sweeping mandate, which required face coverings on planes and trains and in transit hubs, Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said officials believe that the federal mask order was “a valid exercise of the authority Congress has given CDC to protect the public health.” He said it was “an important authority the Department will continue to work to preserve.”

Coley said the CDC had said it would continue to assess public health conditions, and if the agency determined a mandate was necessary for public health, the Justice Department would file an appeal.

As of Tuesday, the agency hadn’t made a determination, officials said.

The federal judge’s ruling did away with the last major vestige of federal pandemic rules and led to a mishmash of new locally created rules that reflected the nation’s ongoing divisions over how to battle the virus.

Major airlines and airports in places like Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City quickly switched to a mask-optional policy. Los Angeles County dropped its mandate for mass transit and a train conductor in New Jersey told commuters of their masks Tuesday: “Feel free to burn them at will.”

New York City, Chicago and Connecticut, however, continued to require masks for travelers.

The ride-sharing companies Lyft and Uber announced on their websites Tuesday that masks will now be optional while riding or driving.

Even Walt Disney World in Florida on Tuesday announced it was lifting its mask requirement for its monorail, buses and sky gondola.

For many, the news was welcome. A video showed some passengers on a Delta Air Lines flight cheering and applauding as they removed masks upon hearing the announcement they were now optional. One man happily twirled his mask on his finger.

However, Brooke Tansley, a television producer and former Broadway performer, was incensed after boarding a flight with her 4-year-old and 8-month-old baby – neither old enough to be vaccinated – only to learn the mask mandate had ended mid-flight.

“Very very angry about this,” she said in a tweet, noting her baby was too young to wear a mask.

President Joe Biden went all-in on flexibility Tuesday when asked whether Americans should mask up on planes.

“That’s up to them,” Biden declared during a visit to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. But the White House continues to require face coverings for those traveling with him on Air Force One, citing CDC guidance.