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U.S. health officials on Tuesday restated their recommendation that Americans wear masks on planes, trains and buses, despite a court ruling last month that struck down a national mask mandate on public transportation.

Americans age 2 and older should wear a well-fitting masks while on public transportation, including in airports and train stations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended, citing the current spread of coronavirus and projections of future COVID-19 trends.

For months, the Transportation Security Administration had been enforcing a requirement that passengers and workers wear masks.

The government had repeatedly extended the mandate, and the latest one had been set to expire May 3, but a federal judge in Florida struck down the rule on April 18. 

The same day, the TSA said it would no longer enforce the mandate.

A CDC spokesperson said, ‘As a result of a court order, the mask order is no longer in effect and is not being enforced.’

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended on Tuesday that Americans age 2 and older wear masks while on planes, trains and buses. People are pictured on an American Airlines flight on April 19, shortly after the mask mandate was lifted nationwide

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended on Tuesday that Americans age 2 and older wear masks while on planes, trains and buses. People are pictured on an American Airlines flight on April 19, shortly after the mask mandate was lifted nationwide

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended on Tuesday that Americans age 2 and older wear masks while on planes, trains and buses. People are pictured on an American Airlines flight on April 19, shortly after the mask mandate was lifted nationwide 

The TSA had stopped enforcing the mask mandate on April 18, with travels across America free to decide whether they wanted to wear a mask or not. Pictured, passengers at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

The TSA had stopped enforcing the mask mandate on April 18, with travels across America free to decide whether they wanted to wear a mask or not. Pictured, passengers at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

The TSA had stopped enforcing the mask mandate on April 18, with travels across America free to decide whether they wanted to wear a mask or not. Pictured, passengers at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

The CDC had asked the Justice Department to appeal the decision, which the department did. 

On Tuesday, CDC officials declined to comment on the status of the appeal. DOJ officials did not immediately respond to a request for information. 

At a Senate hearing Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg suggested that the administration may not want to reimpose the mask mandate.

‘The appeal concerns whether the CDC has the authority to (require masks) in this pandemic or in any pandemic, which is completely distinct from whether a mask mandate ought to be applied any given day,’ Buttigieg said.

He said he agreed that based on conditions on April 13 when the mandate was extended for 15 days that it should have been allowed to expire but said it was a CDC decision.

United Airlines said it does not plan to reimpose the mask mandate, but will allow employees and passengers to wear masks if they want. Pictured a United Airlines employee opting to wear a mask while interacting with maskless travelers

United Airlines said it does not plan to reimpose the mask mandate, but will allow employees and passengers to wear masks if they want. Pictured a United Airlines employee opting to wear a mask while interacting with maskless travelers

United Airlines said it does not plan to reimpose the mask mandate, but will allow employees and passengers to wear masks if they want. Pictured a United Airlines employee opting to wear a mask while interacting with maskless travelers

Several airlines dropped mask mandates after US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down the Biden policy on April 18, saying that the mandate – in which non-complying travelers are ‘forcibly removed from their airplane seats, denied board at the bus steps, and turned away at the train station doors’ – was akin to ‘detention and quarantine.’  

United Airlines said in a statement that they will continue following the guidance from April 18 ruling and allowing passengers to go maskless as they please. 

‘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’ a United spokesperson said. 

Following the repeal of the mandate, United CEO Jack Kirby said he doesn’t think the federal mask mandate will ever return. 

‘I think it’s very unlikely that a mask mandate is going to come back anytime in the foreseeable future,’ Kirby told the Today Show the week the mandate ended. ‘We’re getting back to living life as normal.’ 

JetBlue, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines did not respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment on whether or not they would follow the CDC’s recommendation. 

In the wake of the April 18 ruling, the national train line Amtrak stopped enforcing the mask mandate but said passengers were still welcomed to wear their masks as a preventive measure against COVID-19. 

Megabus and Greyhound have also said masks will no long be required for employees and passengers. Greyhound, however, does required masking on cross border trips to Canada and Mexico. 

Some cities, such as New York City, still requires employees and passengers to wear masks on public transit. 

The decision to relax the nationwide mask mandate comes as COVID-19 cases continue to drop after two years of the pandemic. 

The U.S. reported 81,644 new COVID-19 cases in the past day, according to Johns Hopkins University, along with 266 new deaths.

More than two-thirds of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, and about 82.5 percent have gotten at least one jab.  

WHAT THE END OF THE MASK MANDATE ACTUALLY MEANS 

AIR TRAVEL 

Several air carriers welcomed the move to drop mask mandates on April 18. 

The airlines have issued the following statements about their policies. 

Alaska Airlines 

‘Face masks have been like boarding passes for nearly two years – you couldn’t fly without one. But, as of today, masks are optional in airports and onboard aircraft, effective immediately. 

‘While we are glad this means many of us get to see your smiling faces, we understand some might have mixed feelings. Please remember to be kind to one another and that wearing a mask while traveling is still an option.’

American Airlines 

‘Face masks will no longer be required for our customers and team members at U.S. airports and on domestic flights.

‘Please note face masks may still be required based on local ordinances, or when traveling to/from certain international locations based on country requirements.’

Delta Air Lines 

‘Effective immediately, masks are optional for all airport employees, crew members and customers inside U.S. airports and onboard aircraft.’

‘We are relieved to see the U.S. mask mandate lift to facilitate global travel as COVID-19 has transitioned to an ordinary seasonal virus. Thank you for your support in complying with the federal mask mandate and keeping each other, and our customers, safe during the pandemic.’

United Airlines 

‘Effective immediately, masks are no longer required at United on domestic flights, select international flights (dependent upon the arrival country’s mask requirements) or at U.S. airports.

‘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.’

JetBlue 

‘Mask wearing will now be optional on JetBlue. While no longer required, customers and crew members are welcome to continue wearing masks in our terminals and on board our aircraft.’

Frontier Airlines

‘Masks are now optional on domestic flights, however, certain airports or countries may still require masks, so check the policy at your destination prior to departure and we’ll see you in the sky.’ 

Southwest Airlines 

‘Southwest employees and customers will be able to choose whether they would like to wear a mask, and we encourage individuals to make the best decision to support their personal wellbeing.’ 

AIRPORT TERMINALS

TSA no longer requires face masks on public transportation and in transportation hubs.

Several major airports – including Denver, Seattle-Tacoma, Raleigh-Durham, Miami, Portland and all three DC area airports – have confirmed that they will no longer be enforcing mask requirements.

Most airports seem to be following the new ruling, however, San Francisco has said it ‘will continue to comply with the current TSA security directive on masks until we hear otherwise from TSA.’ 

New York’s two major airports, JFK International Airport and LaGuardia still requires travelers to wear masks per state law.  

Passengers should check the local requirements at their departure and arrival airports before traveling as requirements may vary.    

TRAIN TRAVEL

The US has dropped mask mandates for all trains nationwide. 

In wake of the ruling, national train line Amtrak relaxed mask restrictions effective immediately. 

Amtrak said in a statement that ‘masks are welcome and remain an important preventive measure against COVID-19. Anyone needing or choosing to wear one is encouraged to do so.’ 

RIDE SHARES

Uber has made face masks optional for drivers and riders across the US.

The ride hailing app said in a statement Tuesday morning: ‘As of April 19, 2022, riders and drivers are not required to wear masks when using Uber.

‘However, the CDC still recommends wearing a mask if you have certain personal risk factors and/or high transmission levels in your area.

‘Remember: many people still feel safer wearing a mask because of personal or family health situations, so please be respectful of their preferences. And if you ever feel uncomfortable, you can always cancel the trip.’ 

Uber is the first ride share company to rescind its mask mandate.

Lyft also rescinded its mask policy, saying:  ‘We know that everyone has different comfort levels, and anyone who wants to continue wearing a mask is encouraged to do so. As always, drivers or riders can decline to accept or cancel any ride they don’t wish to take.’

BUSES 

Megabus announced Tuesday that masks will no longer be required for drivers or passengers across the US. 

‘The CDC still recommends wearing a mask while on public transit and we encourage customers to make the choice that makes sense for them.

‘Please be mindful that masks may still be required while traveling through the bus stations we serve. We are extremely thankful for everything our employees and customers did to keep each other safe over the course of the pandemic.

Nationwide bus carrier Greyhound has also rescinded its mask mandate, saying: ‘Face masks on all our buses and facilities is optional.

Greyhound will require masks on cross border trips until Canada and Mexico remove their requirements. They will also be required if mandated by local municipalities.

Local transit authorities in several major cities, including DC, have already lifted restrictions.

However, some cities, such as NYC, have opted to keep their mask mandates in place, following CDC guidance and local ordinances.

Travelers should check with their local bus system before boarding without a face covering. 

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Source: Daily Mail

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