After a Florida judge determined that a 14-month-old mask ban was unconstitutional, major US carriers have loosened rules mandating facial coverings on flights.
Masks will no longer be required on domestic and some foreign flights, according to American Airlines, Delta, United, and Alaska Airlines.
The deadline was extended until 3rd May by US health regulators last week, sparking industry complaints.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will no longer enforce the wearing of masks by travelers, despite the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to urge them.
In a statement, the White House said: “Due to today’s court ruling, effective immediately, TSA will no longer enforce its security directives and emergency amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs.
“TSA will also rescind the new security directives that were scheduled to take effect today (Tuesday).
“CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time.”
The US Travel Association, which had been advocating for the elimination of the travel mask mandate, applauded the decision.
Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of public relations and policy, said: “The current decision to halt enforcement of the federal mask mandate effectively returns the choice of mask usage on planes and other forms of public transportation to travellers and travel industry workers, a further step toward endemic management of Covid.
“We also continue to urge the administration to immediately end pre-departure testing for vaccinated inbound international passengers, which discourages travel and provides limited public health benefits.”
The revision came after former President Donald Trump’s appointment, US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa, found the CDC failed to defend its judgment and did not follow normal rule-making procedures.
She found that the CDC had overstepped its bounds with the mandate, had failed to seek public input, and had failed to sufficiently explain its judgments.
Delta Air Lines issued the following statement: “Following the ruling of a US district court judge on Monday, the Biden administration announced that the Transportation Security Administration will no longer enforce the federal mandate requiring masks in all US airports and on board aircraft.
“Effective immediately, masks are optional for all airport employees, crew members and customers inside U.S. airports and on board all aircraft domestically, as well as on most international flights.
“We are relieved to see the US mask mandate lift to facilitate global travel as Covid-19 has transitioned to an ordinary seasonal virus.
According to United Airlines, “Effective immediately, masks are no longer required at United on domestic flights, select international flights (dependent upon the arrival country’s mask requirements) or at U.S. airports.”
According to American Airlines, “The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to recommend that people wear a face mask in indoor public transportation settings, but they aren’t required to be worn in airport settings or on your flight unless an individual jurisdiction has these requirements.”
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