The mask mandate has been at least temporarily overturned by a controversial Trump-appointed judge.
The Transportation Security Administration will no longer require travelers to wear face masks inside airports, on airplanes, or in other publication transportation.
According to CNBC, the T.S.A. announced its policy overhaul after a federal judge in Florida struck down the mask mandate.
In her decision, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, a Trump appointee once called “unqualified” by the American Bar Association, found that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention failed to provide an adequate explanation for its continued mask-related rules and regulations.
Mizelle also said that the C.D.C. had violated federal guidance by not allowing public comment.
The C.D.C. said that air travelers will be allowed to continue wearing face masks if they so wish.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, however, said that the Biden administration found Mizelle’s ruling “disappointing.”
Psaki said that that the Justice Department “would make any determinations about litigation” following review of Mizelle’s order.
The B.B.C. notes the rule was overturned following a conservative-led lawsuit. The complaint, says the B.B.C., was first filed in July 2021 by the so-called Health Freedom Defense Fund, as well as two Florida residents who claimed that having to wear masks increased their anxiety and risk of panic attacks.
Collectively, the plaintiffs argued that the C.D.C.’s mask mandate was “arbitrary and capricious,” insofar as it gave exemptions to certain groups—including children under the age of two years—but not to others.
Mizelle, who was assigned to the federal courts by former President Donald Trump in 2020, said that the C.D.C. had wrongfully invoked the “good cause exception,” which allows government agencies to avoid public notice and comment.
“Because our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends, the Court declares unlawful and vacates the Mask Mandate,” Mizelle wrote.
The T.S.A. confirmed that it would stop enforcing mask-related rules shortly after Mizelle’s determination.
Some of the United States’ largest air carriers, including United Airlines, Delta Airlines, and Alaska Airlines, said that they, too, will no longer ask passengers to keep their faces covered at all times.
The decision, adds the B.B.C., has already made waves outside of the air travel industry.
Ridesharing apps Uber and Lyft also announced that, effectively immediately, passengers and drivers are not longer required to wear masks while using the platforms’ services.
“You can now ride without a mask and use the front seat if you need to,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement. “While mask usage is still recommended, we’ve updated our Covid safety policies. Let’s move forward, safely together.”