A federal judge in Florida overturned the national mask mandate covering airlines and other public transportation ‘as exceeding the authority of U.S. health officials in their response to the coronavirus pandemic.’
The mask mandate was recently extended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and covered transportation including airplanes, trains, city subways and even ride-sharing vehicles, such as Uber. The decision by U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa said the CDC improperly failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rule making procedures that left it fatally flawed. In her 59-page ruling, Mizelle said the only remedy was to vacate the rule entirely across the country because it would be impossible to end it for the limited group of people who objected in the lawsuit.
The Justice Department declined to comment Monday when asked if the government planned to appeal the ruling. The CDC also declined to comment. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that federal agencies were still assessing the court decision Monday afternoon. Said Psaki: “This is obviously a disappointing decision. The CDC is recommending wearing a mask on public transit.”
The CDC recently extended the mask mandate, which was set to expire Monday, until May 3 to allow more time to study the BA.2 omicron sub-variant of the coronavirus that is now responsible for the vast majority of cases in the U.S. The mandate covered all types of transportation in the U.S. as well as requiring masks in any transportation hub, such as an airport, seaport or bus terminal. It wasn’t immediately clear Monday whether or not some of these entities would continue to require masks on their own.
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