Major Airlines Lift Mask Mandates After Judge Strikes Down CDC Requirement
A federal judge in Florida ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s mask mandate for public transportation was an overstep of authority.
Former President Donald Trump appointee U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of Tampa, Florida, determined that the CDC had violated administrative law by failing to give adequate reasoning for the mandate and not allowing public input which is required when issuing new laws.
“The Mask Mandate is best understood not as sanitation, but as an exercise of the CDC’s power to conditionally release individuals to travel despite concerns that they may spread a communicable disease (and to detain or partially quarantine those who refuse),” Mizelle wrote in her decision. “But the power to conditionally release and detain is ordinarily limited to individuals entering the United States from a foreign country.”
A few of the airlines that made masks optional following the ruling include Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines.
They all released similar statements, confirming that passengers could still wear masks if they felt it was best for them personally. They also noted that the optional mask provision was only valid within the United States, since international destinations may have different rules.
The decision follows the CDC’s fifth extension of the mask mandate. They announced last week that the expiration date for the mandate would be moved back from April 18 to May 3 due to the spike in COVID-19 cases. The latest subvariant, BA.2, has caused a 36 percent increase in cases in the past two weeks, but hospitalizations are still down 90 percent since the peak of omicron last winter.