Major US airlines will no longer require passengers to wear face masks after a federal judge struck down a directive from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Reuters reports.
The directive, in place since February 2021, had been supported by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) which had issued at the time a security directive to enforce the CDC’s order.
However, following a lawsuit filed by a group in Florida last year, US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle this week ruled that the CDC had “exceeded its authority with the mandate, had not sought public comment and did not adequately explain its decisions,” according to the Reuters report.
All major airlines, including American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines immediately dumped their mask mandates following the ruling, which also applies to trains.
The TSA also said it would no longer enforce directives requiring mask use on public transportation although it added the “CDC recommends that people continue to wear masks in indoor public transportation settings.”
Delta welcomed the change, stating, “We are relieved to see the US mask mandate lift to facilitate global travel as COVID-19 has transitioned to an ordinary seasonal virus,” while the company’s CEO Ed Bastian told Reuters, “It’s a question of individual accountability, personal accountability, making your own decisions rather than the government making decisions for people as to how to stay well.”
The US, like most nations around the world, continues to take steps towards living with COVID-19, having lifted a near two-year travel ban on international arrivals in November.