A US judge ruled on Monday that mask use under a federal mandate on US public transportation is illegal, prompting airlines to immediately update their rules after weeks of fierce court battles.
Judge Catherine Kimball-Mazel of Tampa, Florida, ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – the top federal health agency – had overstepped its authority to enforce the requirement, which applies to planes, trains, subways and buses, among other things. .
Several US airlines announced shortly thereafter that masks would not be mandatory, at least not on their domestic flights.
United Airlines said the change would take effect “immediately” on its domestic flights within the United States and some international flights, depending on the regulations of each country it arrives in.
“This means that our employees will no longer need to wear a mask or impose a mask on passengers in most cases, but will be able to use it if they wish, as the CDC continues to strongly recommend the wearing of a mask on public transportation,” first : A spokesperson for the US group, which was one of the first to request that its employees be vaccinated against Covid-19.
American Airlines and Delta made similar announcements. Delta noted that a “perfectly fitting” mask protects the person who wears it, even if those around him are not wearing it.
In a statement, the company cited the issue of preventing passengers from wearing the muzzle. “Some customers whose behavior has been particularly abusive will still be subject to scrutiny, even after the mask rule is over,” he said.
In recent weeks, Democrat Joe Biden’s government has come under increasing pressure to loosen or rescind the measure.
About 20 Republican-led states and several major airlines have called for an end to the mandatory use of masks on planes and other forms of public transportation.
But last week, federal officials decided to extend the requirement until at least May 3, due to a spike in infections.
White House spokeswoman Jean Psaki said the White House considered the judge’s ruling “disappointing.” “The CDC continues to recommend mask-wearing on public transportation,” he said.
According to a senior presidential official, the decision “means that the CDC’s order to wear a mask on public transportation is not currently in effect.”
Therefore, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would not enforce that requirement, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
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