Federal Judge Throws Out Mask Mandate for Public Transportation

New York, NY, April 19, 2022-A federal judge in Florida declared the Biden administration’s Covid-19 mask mandate for public transportation unlawful, throwing out its requirement that travelers in the U.S. wear masks on airplanes, trains, taxis, buses and other forms of mass transit, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa ruled Monday that the mandate exceeded the authority granted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under federal public-health law and was issued in violation of rule-making procedures.

“Judge Mizelle, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, said Congress had never clearly given the CDC the power to issue population-wide preventive public-health measures such as the mask mandate.

“Because the CDC acted beyond its authority, ‘the court must hold unlawful and set aside the mask mandate as an agency action that is not in accordance with law,’ she wrote in an opinion that effectively applied nationwide.

“A Biden administration official said the mandate is no longer in effect while the government considers its next steps, and the Transportation Security Administration said it would stop enforcing it. Airlines late Monday began saying they would lift masking requirements, policy changes that in some cases were implemented midflight.

“This is obviously a disappointing decision,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday. She said the CDC continues to recommend wearing a mask when using public transit.

“The Department of Homeland Security and the CDC are reviewing the ruling, and the Justice Department will make a decision on any further litigation, Ms. Psaki said.

“The mandate for public transit has been one of the Biden administration’s most enduring regulations for Covid-19 mitigation.

“The ruling came days after the Biden administration extended the transportation mask mandate through May 3 after it was set to expire Monday. The TSA, acting under the CDC’s recommendations, has extended the mandate several times since it first took effect in February 2021, and it is unclear whether the requirement would have been extended again.

“Airlines including United Airlines Holdings Inc., American Airlines Group Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc., Southwest Airlines Co., JetBlue Airways Corp. and Alaska Air Group Inc. said that they would make mask-wearing optional at U.S. airports and on domestic flights, though some carriers said masks may still be required on certain international flights depending on rules at a given destination, or where local ordinances apply.”