After Ruling, TSA Will No Longer Enforce Federal Mask Mandate
Due to an April 18 court ruling from a Florida federal judge, effective immediately, TSA will no longer enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs, meaning mask wearing while using these modes of transportation is now considered optional. With this ruling, however, comes many questions.
Several airlines, including Delta, American and Southwest, reacted to the ruling by immediately changing their guidelines to allow for masks to be optional for both passengers and crew members while on flights, at domestic airports, and at some international locations. Notably, flight crew will longer need to enforce mask wearing on flights, a task that proved difficult in the face of sometimes unruly and uncooperative passengers.
While the ruling allows for the option to mask up on public transportation and transportation hubs, the CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings, as cases increase in several parts of the country.
U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy, Tori Emerson Barnes, issued the following statement on the Biden administration's announcement:
"The current decision to halt enforcement of the federal mask mandate effectively returns the choice of mask usage on planes and other forms of public transportation to travelers and travel industry workers, a further step toward endemic management of COVID," Emerson Barnes said. "We also continue to urge the administration to immediately end pre-departure testing for vaccinated inbound international passengers, which discourages travel and provides limited public health benefits."
The ruling comes after the TSA had recently extended the Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs through May 3, 2022.
The Department of Justice, however, announced on Wednesday that it will appeal the ruling, since it was asked by the CDC to do so.
In an April 21 statement, the CDC said, “It is CDC’s continuing assessment that at this time an order requiring masking in the indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for the public health. CDC will continue to monitor public health conditions to determine whether such an order remains necessary. CDC believes this is a lawful order, well within CDC’s legal authority to protect public health.”
This is a developing story.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.