Ruling Halting Mask Mandates Sends Transport Hubs Scrambling

Ruling Halting Mask Mandates Sends Transport Hubs Scrambling airline workers and travelers are masked in an airport (Mark Ralston/Getty Images)

By Nick Koutsobinas | Monday, 18 April 2022 10:44 PM

The recent order from a federal Florida judge to end mask mandates for airlines and other public transportation Monday has left the public questioning what the transport hubs or institutions will do as they scramble to respond.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle said Monday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention failed to explain the mandate's reasons adequately. She was appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2020.

The ruling appeared to free operators to make their own decisions about mask requirements, with several airlines announcing they would drop mandates, but New York City's public transit system plans to keep it in place.

The Association of Flight Attendants, the nation's largest union of cabin crews, has recently taken a neutral position on the mask rule because its members are divided about the issue. The union's president appealed for calm on planes and in airports Monday.

"The last thing we need for workers on the frontlines or passengers traveling today is confusion and chaos," union leader Sara Nelson said.

Nelson said it takes airlines 24-48 hours to put new procedures in place and tell employees about them. She said passengers should check with airlines for updates about travel requirements.

According to the National Review, thus far, American, Delta, Southwest, United, and Alaska Airlines airlines have all said they are ending their mask requirement.

"While this means that our employees are no longer required to wear a mask – and no longer have to enforce a mask requirement for most of the flying public – they will be able to wear masks if they choose to do so, as the CDC continues to strongly recommend wearing a mask on public transit," United said in a statement.

According to The Hill, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden administration officials were still "reviewing" the ruling. She went on to call the decision "disappointing."

"They're reviewing it as we speak," Psaki said when asked if the mask mandate is still in place for travelers.

The press secretary maintained, "it's safer for individuals who are flying to continue to wear masks."

When asked by Fox News' Peter Doocy why the administration recommends people wear masks on public transit but not in the White House, Psaki responded, "I'm not a doctor, you're not a doctor that I'm aware of."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.