Several transportation providers, including Uber, Amtrak and the three major airlines, said they would no longer require employees or customers to wear masks after a federal judge rescinded the Biden administration’s mask mandate.
On Monday, US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not have the authority to introduce a mask mandate and did not follow the proper rules to implement a mandate. The Biden administration said she was weighing whether to appeal the ruling. (The mask mandate for air travel and public transportation was set to expire on April 18, but was recently extended to May 3.)
But many private transportation providers aren’t waiting for a response from the White House. Uber sent an advisory to riders and drivers in the US that while masks would no longer be required, they were still recommended. Passengers will also be able to use the front passenger seat for first time since the start of the pandemic.
A Lyft spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment about its own policies.
You can now travel without a mask and use the front seat if you need to. While the use of masks is still recommended, we have updated our Covid safety policies. Let’s move forward, together safely.
For US riders only. pic.twitter.com/LgHYSsC4Bg
—Uber (@Uber) April 19, 2022
The Transportation Security Administration, responding to the federal judge’s ruling, said it would no longer enforce the mask mandate for air travelers. Almost immediately, the three major airlines — Delta Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines — lifted their own rules requiring the use of masks during domestic flights. Masks may still be required for some international flights or when flying in and out of certain locations, the airlines said.
An Amtrak spokesperson said that while passengers and employees “are no longer required to wear masks on board trains or at stations, masks are welcome and remain an important preventative measure against COVID-19. Anyone who needs or chooses to use one is encouraged to do so.”
But some transit agencies aren’t responding as quickly. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates subway trains and buses in New York City, said it will continue to require passengers and employees to wear masks while it reviews its policy. However, New Jersey Transit said it would no longer enforce the wearing of masks on its trains.
The recent extension of the CDC’s mask mandate came amid a surge in the number of COVID cases in some parts of the country, as the BA.2 Omicron subvariant becomes the dominant strain in the US. Throughout the pandemic, public health officials have consistently recommended the use of masks to slow the spread of COVID-19, particularly in crowded and poorly ventilated areas. on your websiteThe CDC “strongly recommends” wearing masks in transportation to reduce the chance of contracting and spreading the virus.