Department of Justice to Appeal the Mask Mandate Cancellation — What to Know

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called on the Department of Justice to appeal a Florida judge's order to overturn the mask mandate.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling on the Department of Justice to appeal the ruling of a Florida judge to overturn the federal mask mandate for indoor transportation.

The mask mandate was abruptly overturned on Monday, which prompted transportation companies from Uber and Lyft to Amtrak and major U.S. airlines to quickly adapt their mask-wearing policies. The mask mandate was originally set to expire on May 3.

A mask is seen on the ground at John F. Kennedy Airport on April 19, 2022 in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Despite the cancellation of the mask mandate on Monday, the CDC stated that "at this time an order requiring masking in the indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for the public health," according to The Associated Press.

On Monday, President Biden told reporters that wearing a mask on indoor transportation was up to passengers. White House press secretary Jen Psaki added "public health decisions shouldn't be made by the courts, they should be made by public health experts," The New York Times reported Monday.

So, what does all this back-and-forth mean for passengers? It's complicated. For instance, travelers flying out of the New York City area will be required to wear a mask at John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, but not at Newark Liberty International Airport. Once on board a major U.S. carrier, masks can be removed. Find our full guide to masking rules at major U.S. airports here.

Now that the mask mandate has been lifted, even if just temporarily, some airlines are inviting passengers they had previously banned over mask-wearing disputes back on board. According to The AP, "Airlines have reported more than 7,000 incidents of disruptive passengers to the Federal Aviation Administration since the start of 2021, when unruliness aboard planes seemed to take off. More than two-thirds of those cases involved passengers who refused to wear a mask."

While American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines are going through their lists of banned passengers to welcome some back on board, others, like Southwest and Alaska Airlines, have no plans to do so.

Despite the current overhaul of the mask mandate, the CDC still advises that masks be worn in all indoor transportation settings, as the organization continues to monitor public health conditions across the country. The CDC is also reporting that there has been a consistent uptick in COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks, and the vast majority of new cases are tied to the new Omicron subvariant BA.2

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