The mask mandate on planes and trains which was extended by the CDC got cancelled by a US judge saying that it exceeds the CDC’s statutory authority and violates the procedures required for agency rulemaking.
A Florida judge has overturned President Joe Biden administration’s decision to require Americans to wear masks on planes and other forms of public transportation, claiming the administration overstepped its authority and failed to adequately justify its decision.
Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of the United States District Court in Tampa issued her decision (pdf given below) just five days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended the transportation mask rule until at least May 3. She revoked the mask order and returned it to the CDC for “further proceedings.”
The judge wrote in her ruling, “The court concludes that the mask mandate exceeds the CDC’s statutory authority and violates the procedures required for agency rulemaking…” “Accordingly, the court vacates the mandate and remands it to the CDC.”
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, termed the decision “disappointing” in a statement to reporters.
In an executive order signed one day after entering office in January 2021, Biden advocated for mandatory mask use. The CDC issued its transportation mask mandate two weeks later, without allowing for public comment or sufficiently explaining its reasoning, according to Mizelle.
Executives from the airline sector have advocated for the mask mandate to be repealed, citing the fact that it contributed to an increase in violent passenger conduct. “I think lifting the mask mandate will be one step towards reestablishing civility and normal behavioural patterns on board the aircraft as well as in the airports,” Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian told the Washington Post on Monday.
So far this year, the Federal Aviation Administration has received more than 1,100 reports of disruptive airline passengers, with 65 percent of those events involving mask-wearing laws. In 2018, more than 1,000 cases were significant enough to warrant an FAA investigation, compared to only 146 in 2019. Many of the instances from last year were so serious that the FAA levied fines of more than $10,000, including a passenger who was fined more than $26,000 after allegedly assaulting a flight attendant.
In the United States, most state and local governments have already lifted their bans on wearing masks in public areas. Last week’s extension of the transportation mask rule was necessary, according to the CDC, to give the agency time to examine the impact of an increase in Covid-19 infections on hospitalizations.
The mask mandate is given below: