U.S. airlines are lifting mask mandates, after a federal judge in Florida said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had overstepped its authority when it issued a mask mandate for planes and other forms of public transportation.
In her ruling, US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle found that the CDC had improperly invoked what is known as the “good cause exception”.
The massive shift means that now using masks will be optional for each carrier, from travelers aboard their aircraft to the many airline employees. Airlines warn that travelers should still bring a mask on their trip, to conform with the rules where they land, particularly for international flights.
The Biden administration said that it would likely appeal the decision. “The White House is reviewing the court’s ruling and the Justice Department will decide whether it will appeal”, according to press secretary Jen Psaki.
After the ruling, major U.S. airlines, the Amtrack network and even private services like Uber and Lyft quickly moved to make face mask optional, though often still encouraged for most people using their services.
The Association of Flight Attendants, the nation’s largest union of cabin crews, has recently taken a neutral position because its members are divided about the issue.