Majority of the major airlines and airports on Monday rushed to drop the face mask requirements for passengers following a federal judge’s decision to strike down a national mask mandate. While some are happy to finally travel maskless, others are very concerned if the most recent decision was enforced too early taking into consideration the danger of Covid-19.
According to the January 2021 security directive, airplanes, airports, taxis and other mass transit were mandated to enforce passengers to wear face masks as one of the most important Covid-19 pandemic measures in an effort to slow down the spread of the virus.
While some airlines and airports immediately dropped mask requirements, the judge’s ruling still gives the option to enforce mask mandate for those who want to. That said, it’s expected that it will take some time before we see all airports and airlines mask free.
That just happened on a flight from Houston to New York on an United Airlines flight. Passengers were not required to wear mask while boarding on the plane and during flight, but they were required to put masks on as soon as they land at Kennedy Airport or take a subway.
In a 59-page lawsuit ruling, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overstepped its authority in issuing the original health order on which the TSA directive was based. She also said the order was fatally flawed because the CDC didn’t follow proper rulemaking procedures.
The White House said the mask order “is not in effect at this time” and called the court decision disappointing.
American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways as well as United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines all dropped the mask requirement for passengers shortly after the judge’s ruling. According to multiple sources, passengers on multiple flights who were still mid-flight, cheered and applauded once the flight crews announced the most recent decision regarding face masks.
“No one’s any happier than we are,” the attendant says in a video posted by Dillon Thomas, a CBS Denver reporter, who was on the flight. She added that people who wanted to keep on their masks were encouraged to do so. “But we’re ready to give ém up,” she added. “So thank you and happy unmasking day!”
Similar to airlines, several of the busiest airports countrywide also decided to drop face masks for passengers, but announced they are recommending that people be voluntarily masked. Passengers who still think wearing a face mask is the right choice for them will be handed free face masks on airports.
Since the pandemic began two years ago, many state or local governments had issued various orders requiring masks to be worn inside schools, restaurants, stores or elsewhere. The rules were largely rolled back as the deadliest, most infectious months of the pandemic eased.