US airlines have begun advising customers that they are no longer required to wear masks on their flights, following a ruling by a Florida federal judge.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had recently extended the mandate requiring the wearing of mask on public transport and at transportation hubs until May 3.
But a ruling by US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle concluded that the mandate “exceeds the CDC’s statutory authority and violates the procedures required for agency rulemaking”.
Following the ruling the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said in a statement that it “will no longer enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs”.
Airlines have also reacted quickly, with United tweeting that “Masks are no longer required on domestic flights, select international flights (dependent upon the arrival country’s requirements) or at US airports”.
Masks are no longer required on domestic flights, select international flights (dependent upon the arrival country's requirements) or at U.S. airports. More comfortable keeping yours on? Go right ahead… the choice is yours (you look dino-mite either way)! pic.twitter.com/hwq678v55d
— United Airlines (@united) April 18, 2022
Similarly American Airlines tweeted that “Face masks will no longer be required for our customers and team members at US airports and on domestic flights (though there may be some exceptions based on local or country requirements)”.
Face masks will no longer be required for our customers and team members at U.S. airports and on domestic flights (though there may be some exceptions based on local or country requirements). https://t.co/GT1lZq5TAf
— americanair (@AmericanAir) April 19, 2022
Meanwhile Delta has released 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 US airports and on board all aircraft domestically, as well as on most international flights.
“Delta employees and customers may continue wearing masks if they so choose. Wearing a well-fitting mask protects the wearer, even if others around them are not wearing masks.
“Given the unexpected nature of this announcement, please be aware that customers, airline employees and federal agency employees, such as TSA, may be receiving this information at different times.
“You may experience inconsistent enforcement during the next 24 hours as this news is more broadly communicated – remember to show understanding and patience with others who may not be aware enforcement is no longer required.
“Communications to customers and in-airport signage and announcements will be updated to share that masking is now optional – this may take a short period of time.”
Last month Industry lobbying group Airlines for America – which counts carriers including AA, Delta, Jetblue, Southwest and United among its members – wrote a letter to US president Joe Biden urging him to drop Covid-era travel restrictions.
The letter stated that the measures “are no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment”, adding that “The science clearly supports lifting the mask mandate, as demonstrated by the recently released CDC framework indicating that 99 per cent of the US population no longer need to wear masks indoors”.
US airlines urge Biden to drop remaining Covid travel restrictions