U.S. Judge Strikes Down Travel Mask Mandate

[Update, April 18, 9:30 pm EDT] The U.S. Transportation Security Administration in a Monday statement said it would “no longer enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs,” effective immediately, after a federal judge struck down a federal mask mandate.

Most U.S. carriers, including Alaska, American, Delta, United and Southwest airlines, on Monday announced that they no longer would require passengers or crew to wear masks while on board during domestic flights. 

A U.S. federal judge on Monday struck down the federal requirement that travelers wear masks on commercial aircraft and in airports, ruling that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had exceeded its authority in setting the mandate.

Previously set to expire April 18, the CDC last week extended the mandate through May 3. Under the requirement, individuals across all transportation networks throughout the United States, including at airports, onboard commercial aircraft, on over-the-road buses and on commuter bus and rail systems must wear facial coverings, according to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa vacated the mandate. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the federal government would appeal the ruling or allow the mandate to end. 

The board of directors of industry association Airlines for America last month sent a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden and members of his administration, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, urging them to drop the mandate.

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