In the wake of a judge’s ruling Monday that, major US airlines have made mask-wearing optional for both passengers and employees. Though customers are free to continue wearing masks if they choose to do so, passengers will not be required to mask up on many carriers for the first time in years.
Here are some of the airlines that no longer require masking. For regional airlines, you should check your carrier’s website before heading to the airport.
This does not mean you’ll never have to wear a mask at the airport. Many of the airlines note that while their new policies apply to all domestic flights, masks may still be required to fly to some international destinations. And some airports, like Philadelphia International Airport, still require masks inside their terminals before you fly.
For ground travel, the rules are a bit more complicated. Masks are no longer required on Amtrak trains and in Amtrak stations, and on some subways, but transit systems in some cities still require them.
It’s not yet clear if the judge’s decision will stand. Federal agencies are reviewing the decision and still may appeal, a Biden administration official confirmed toThe CDC still encourages masking on public transit.
News of the judge’s decision drew mixed reactions. Some videos showed plane passengers cheering while they pulled off their masks, but other people said they plan to keep them on.
“It’s a preventative measure,” traveler Bob Mounter told CBS News transportation correspondent Errol Barnett. “If they tell me, for example, I do not have to wear seatbelts anymore, I will still wear my seatbelt.”
The decision came after the CDC had recently extended the mask mandate by two weeks, until May 3, to give researchers more time to study the Omicron subvariant BA.2.
Dr. Céline Gounder, an infectious disease expert and editor-at-large for Kaiser Health News,that the CDC’s extension was the “appropriate” and “cautious” approach.
“We know that this virus mutates. In fact, it’s mutating very rapidly,” she said. “We will see more variants, and we will see other pandemics after COVID. So I do think the idea of stripping ourselves of an essential tool and toolbox is a really bad idea.”