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Good News on Plane Mask Mandates

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

Monday a federal judge in Florida has reversed the Biden administration’s mask mandate for public transportation saying that it was not lawful. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Mizelle said that national public health agencies had exceeded their power in issuing the mandate. As a result of this ruling, US transit authorities said they would no longer enforce the mask mandate. Just last week the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had extended the mask mandate to May 3rd.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the decision “disappointing” and noted that the CDC still recommends travelers cover their mouths and noses. Ms. Psaki added that the Justice Department “would make any determinations about litigation” following the order.

The lawsuit had been brought originally in July of 2021, by the health freedom defense fund and two Florida residents who claimed wearing masks had increased panic attacks and anxiety. The plaintiffs argued that the CDC’s mandate was arbitrary because it gave exemptions to groups like children under two years old but not others.

In her ruling, Judge Mizelle had found the CDC improperly invoked the good cause except exception which allowed the agency to skip public notice and comment over the mask mandate. “Because ‘our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends,'” Judge Mizelle wrote, invoking another case, “the Court declares unlawful and vacates the Mask Mandate.”

United Airlines, Delta airlines, Alaska Airlines, and American Airlines said face coverings were no longer required on flights. Additionally, the Transportation Security Administration, which runs all security in the US for airports, said that it would no longer require passengers to wear a mask inside of airports. In addition to airlines, many ride-share apps like Uber and Lyft have announced that passengers and drivers do not have to wear masks while using the services.

The mask mandate was first issued in February of 2021 by the CDC for travelers. Since then, over 7000 passengers have taken issue with the mask mandate. Many of these incidents with passengers were reported to the Federal Aviation Administration and caused much distress to travelers throughout this time. Even CNN’s doctor Leana Wen considers cloth masks to be little more than facial decorations.

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When passengers aboard various planes and airlines found out that the mask mandate had been overturned cheers erupted inside planes and cabins. Smiles could be seen everywhere. Everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief. It is a rare sight to see so many people thankful to be free to breathe without a barrier on their face. It remains to be seen if the Biden administration will appeal this decision. We can only hope that they won’t.