In response to a federal court order that threw down face-covering rules on public transportation, a hot-button issue throughout the epidemic, airlines, subway systems, and bus companies throughout the country moved fast Tuesday to remove mask requirements.
A number of companies, including Uber, Lyft, and Amtrak, announced the termination of masking restrictions within hours after the decision was made public, causing a flurry of comments on social media from passengers.
Those who were less enthusiastic included Scott Hechinger, a specialist in public defence law who, although he too was greeted with enthusiasm at the airport, became more concerned as the journey progressed.
“There’s a lot of sneezing and coughing going on. And folks are simply taking it all in. The right to be free, “Hechinger took to Twitter.
Earlier this week, policymakers in Washington opted to extend the federal mask rule until May 3, but a federal court overturned that decision on Monday.
Both Uber and Lyft implemented a new policy on Tuesday that is designed to be considerate of passengers who desire to continue wearing masks while not compelling them to do so any longer.
The company said that “although the use of a mask is still suggested,” it has amended its Covid safety regulations.
Amtrak, the railroad business, altered its policy as well, stating that although masks were no longer needed, “anyone who requires or wishes to wear one is urged to do so.”
In New York, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which will continue to impose face coverings on the city’s subways and buses, was one of the key transportation provider holding companies. The Metro bus and rail system in Washington, D.C., has been relieved of its mission.
After a judgement by US Federal Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle on Monday, which concluded that the mask requirement exceeded the legislative power of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the amendments were made (CDC).
Judge Mizelle, a Republican appointee of former President Donald Trump, handed down her decision on a complaint brought in July 2021 by a conservative non-profit group called the Health Freedom Defense Fund, as well as by two individual plaintiffs.
The Justice Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated late Tuesday that they disagreed with Mizelle’s decision.
A Justice Department statement claimed the masking order was a “valid use of the power Congress has delegated to the CDC to safeguard public health,” and that possible future measures would be determined by a CDC public health evaluation.
Polling indicates that the majority of people continue to favour indoor mask laws, but that a significant minority are against.
63 percent of respondents in a YouGov America survey conducted on April 18, just before the verdict, said they “strongly” or “somewhat” favour the US government’s demand that people wearing masks on public transportation.
Only 19 percent were “very” opposed, 10 percent were “somewhat” opposed, and nine percent weren’t sure how they felt about the issue.
The use of face masks has been a difficult matter throughout the epidemic, and they have proved especially vexing on flights, where there has been a significant increase in attacks on flight attendants.
Flight attendants are split on whether or not to keep the regulation, according to Sara Nelson, head of the Association of Flight Attendants union, who spoke on CNBC Tuesday morning.
It’s clear that flight crew members are relieved, but there are also others who remain very worried, according to Nelson, who also said that the union has not taken a stance on whether or not to prolong the mandate.
Among those who hailed Mizelle’s decision was Representative Sam Graves of Missouri, the top Republican on the House Transportation Committee.
“It’s about time,” Graves expressed his excitement. “It was never about health or science, since mask laws had been repealed almost everywhere else by the time this disingenuous and overreaching mandate was implemented. It’s past time to put an end to this requirement once and for all.”
In contrast, Tatiana Prowell, an oncology professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said that she was hearing from people who were immunocompromised, as well as from people who had cancer.
As well as using N95 masks, Prowell advised travellers to go on less popular days and times if feasible during the epidemic in order to avoid large groups of people.