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Mask mandates scrapped for travellers in the US, Delta Air Lines says Covid-19 an ‘ordinary seasonal virus’

A passenger wears personal protective equipment on a Delta Air Lines flight. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

A passenger wears personal protective equipment on a Delta Air Lines flight. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Published Apr 20, 2022

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Travellers in the United States are no longer required to wear masks on public transport after a judge ruled that the national mask mandate, which covered airports, mass transit and taxis, was unlawful.

District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, based in Florida, ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had overstepped its authority when it issued a mask mandate for public transportation.

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On Monday, the White House said it was reviewing the court’s ruling, but the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would not enforce the wearing of masks for travellers for now.

"The agencies are reviewing the decision and assessing potential next steps. In the meantime, today’s court decision means CDC’s public transportation masking order is not in effect at this time,” read the statement.

The CDC said in a statement that despite the order, it recommends people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time.

“As a result of a court order, effective immediately and as of April 18, 2022, CDC’s January 29, 2021 Order requiring masks on public transportation conveyances and at transportation hubs is no longer in effect. Therefore, CDC will not enforce the Order,” said the center.

After the ruling was made, major airlines including American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines immediately relaxed the mask restrictions.

Delta Air Lines said in a press release that Covid-19 had transitioned to an “ordinary seasonal virus”. However, the company later updated the statement to a “manageable respiratory virus”.

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Employees and customers may continue wearing masks if they choose.

The airline’s chief health officer, Dr. Henry Ting, said wearing a well-fitting mask protects the wearer, even if others around them are not wearing masks.

“Effective immediately, masks are optional for all airport employees, crew members and customers inside US airports and on board all aircraft domestically, as well as on most international flights,” said the airline.

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