Five days after the CDC reaffirmed its mask order for air travel, a federal judge nixed it nationwide


On April 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that its Mask Order (requiring face masks on planes into and within the United States) would continue to allow the CDC time to assess the potential impact of the rise of COVID-19 cases.

Yesterday, however, a Florida federal judge struck the Mask Order in Florida and across the country, concluding that the CDC had exceeded its authority by instituting the Mask Order.

In response, the CDC confirmed that because of the 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2022, CDC’s January 29, 2021 Order requiring masks on public transportation conveyances and at transportation hubs is no longer in effect.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.”

The Transportation Security Administration made a similar announcement:

Due to today’s court ruling, effective immediately, TSA will no longer enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs. TSA will also rescind the new Security Directives that were scheduled to take effect tomorrow. CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time.

The CDC does continue to recommend that people wear masks on planes. NPR’s Jonathan Franklin reports that some major airlines are dropping mask mandates for customers and employees. They include Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines.

In a statement, Delta Airlines was “relieved to see the U.S. mask mandate lift to facilitate global travel as COVID-19 has transitioned to an ordinary seasonal virus.”

For those of you with COVID-19 workplace policies that reference domestic and international travel, consider updating those policies to reflect the current state of play. Among other things, employees are free to mask up when they travel — and may have to in specific settings (e.g., international travel or domestic localities).

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