The federal mask mandate for public transportation travelers was struck down Monday by Florida Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle.
Mizelle, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, said the mask requirement exceeded the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “authority under the Public Health Services Act.”
The mask requirement was set to expire on Monday, April 18 before the CDC said it would extend it until May 3 as it continued to monitor the effects of the BA.2 Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The judge’s ruling voids that extension, meaning airlines, trains, buses, ferries, subways and rideshare services will no longer be required to ask passengers to wear a mask.
In an evening media briefing Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the judge’s was “disappointing,” adding that the Department of Justice will decide if there needs to be any litigation on the decision.
“The CDC recommended continuing the order for additional time, two weeks, to be able to assess the latest science and keeping with its responsibility to protect the American people,” Psaki said. “So this is obviously a disappointing decision. The CDC continues recommending wearing a mask in public transit.”
Shortly after the judge’s announcement, the Transportation Security Administration said it would no longer enforce the mask requirement, meaning airports such as LAX will no longer require masking before or after flights.
L.A. Weekly can also confirm that JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta and United will no longer require the masks, although riders may wear one if they choose.
“In line with Monday’s federal court ruling and the Transportation Security Administration’s guidance, mask wearing will now be optional on JetBlue,” the airline said in a statement, Monday. “While no longer required, customers and crewmembers are welcome to continue wearing masks in our terminals and on board our aircraft.”