Travel mask mandate struck down

Masks no longer required for travel on most airlines, Metro following ruling

by griffin brammer, show manager

The Transportation Security Administration will no longer enforce the Biden administration’s federal mask mandate for travel. Several major airlines, including Delta, Southwest and United, no longer require masks.

Several American airlines and airports have lifted their mask mandates for passengers and staff following a federal appeal against U.S. President Joe Biden’s mask mandate.

Floridian federal judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle rationalized that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) overstepped its boundaries in prolonging the mandate.

In her 59-page appeal, Mizelle argued that face coverings did not count as sanitation measures per the Public Health Service Act of 1944 and the CDC failed to provide reasoning behind initiating and extending the mask mandate.

Mizelle, who was appointed by former president Donald Trump, argued that the best course of action would be to completely eradicate the mandate, despite the CDC’s intentions.

“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. “A limited remedy would be no remedy at all.”

With federal agencies still deciding how to proceed with the ruling, the mask mandate has been temporarily lifted. The White House stated that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would not enforce masks.

The White House’s press secretary Jen Psaki found a flaw with Mizelle’s appeal.

“Public health decisions shouldn’t be made by the courts. They should be made by public health experts,” Psaki stated. She mentioned that the whole situation was an “obviously disappointing decision.”

On Tuesday, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) was one of several airports to follow suit with the appeal.

“CVG no longer requires masks to be worn in alignment with the following… Effective immediately, TSA will not enforce its mask-related security directives,” CVG representatives stated.

Major American airlines like Delta, Southwest and United Airlines have all made masks optional, excepting only some international flights and local ordinances.

The ruling is especially pertinent to flight attendants who, since the passing of the mandate, saw an 85% incident rate of dealing with unruly passengers due to mask requirements. One in five of these incidents were physical, according to a study by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.

“(Flight attendants) don’t like being policemen on airplanes,” JetBlue Airways founder David Neeleman said.

Mizelle’s appeal applied to several other forms of public transport, including railways, bus lines and ride-sharing services.

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The Cincinnati Bell Connector, the city’s streetcar system, announced it would also be following in the TSA’s footsteps.

“The (TSA) has clarified that due to the recent court ruling, masks are no longer required on public transportation,” the Connector’s Twitter account tweeted. The tweet also clarified that, while optional, masks are still welcome and all cars will still be providing hand sanitizer to passengers.

The U.S. Justice Department later stated on Tuesday that Mizelle’s decision may be repealed if the CDC can determine that the mandate is still necessary to protect public health.

Sophomore nursing major Connor Driscoll-Natale has mixed feelings on the ruling, as a California native who relies on the airlines to travel to and from Xavier.

“We’re entering our third year of COVID-19, so the reality is present that mask mandates will end sooner or later,” Driscoll-Natale said.

“It’s interesting because, in California, it is a different reality from what we have here,” Driscoll-Natale stated. “And going home to my family, I feel guilty about telling them I don’t wear a mask while traveling.”