When a district court judge in Florida lifted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) federal COVID-19 mask mandate on April 19, 2022, the Transportation Safety Administration stopped enforcing it. However, the judge’s ruling left it up to airlines and local transit agencies to decide how to respond.
Many airlines immediately lifted the mandate – making masking optional, but the same cannot be said for local transit authorities. There is a patchwork of regulations with masks still required at certain airports, bus terminals, subway stations, and ferries. If traveling, even those who are opposed to masking should probably keep a mask on hand.
About a week before the ruling, on April 13, 2022, the CDC had extended the federal mask mandate until May 3, 2022, due to the surge in the COVID-19 Omicron BA.2 variant. The purpose was to have additional time “to assess the potential impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and health care system capacity ….”
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has decided to appeal the judge’s ruling to preserve the mask mandate and, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, “to ensure the CDC’s authority and ability to put in mandates in the future remains intact.” Although the appeal has been filed, the DOJ has yet to request an injunction. The Florida ruling remains in effect for now.
In the meantime, the Biden Administration continues to urge Americans to wear masks on public transportation based upon current CDC guidance.