The decision by a federal judge in Florida to overturn a national mandate for public transportation masks across the region and the U.S. has created a confusing set of rules for passengers when they travel at airports and transit systems.
At Philadelphia International Airport, travelers will need to be in masks at terminals because of the mandate of city masks, which went into effect on Monday. Passengers can take off their masks if they want, when they board the plane.
Passengers on a United Airlines flight from Houston to Kennedy Airport, for example, can drop their masks at the airport of departure and on the plane, but must put them back on as soon as they land in New York or sit in the subway.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently extended its mandate until May 3 to give more time to study the subunit of amicron BA.2 coronavirus, which is now responsible for the vast majority of cases in the U.S. But the court’s decision postponed the mandate.
Here’s how American transport hubs and suppliers react:
The major airlines were among the first to update their rules after a court ruling. United, Southwest, American, Alaska, Delta and JetBlue have announced that masks will no longer be needed on domestic flights.
“While this means our staff are no longer required to wear masks – and no longer have to comply with mask requirements for most flyers – they will be able to wear masks if they wish to do so, as the CDC continues to strongly recommend wearing masks on public transport,” the statement said. United Airlines.
The Flight Attendants Association, the country’s largest flight attendants ’union, recently took a neutral stance on the mask rule because its members were divided on the issue. On Monday, the union president called for calm on planes and airports.
Alaska Airlines has said some passengers who have been banned for violating the mask policy will remain banned.
The airports did not get rid of the masks so quickly, some expressed uncertainty in the decision and followed a wait-and-see approach.
But others, including two major airports in Houston, waived the mask’s requirements shortly after the Transportation Security Administration said it would no longer fulfill the mask’s mandate. Los Angeles International and Phoenix Sky Harbor have also waived requirements for masks. San Francisco International Airport has said it is awaiting further guidance from TSA.
The airports of Philadelphia and New York will remain intact.
TRAINS AND BUSES
The rules for train and bus passengers vary depending on the city and the transit agency.
SEPTA announced masks will no longer be needed on trains and buses.
In New York, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Communications Director Tim Minton said the system retains the mandate of the mask, meaning masks are still required in subways, buses and commuter rail lines, as has been the case since the pandemic.
But the regional train system, which serves the Washington, D.C. area, said Monday that masks will now be optional for its customers and staff.
“Our mandate for masks was based on federal instructions,” said Paul J. Videfeld, general manager and director general of the Transit Office of the Washington Metropolitan Area. “We will continue to monitor this situation as it unfolds, but the masks will be optional for Metro property until further notice.”
Amtrak also said it makes masks optional.
TRAINING OF THE TRAIN
As of Monday evening, the websites of the travel companies Lyft and Uber were still reporting that masks were needed.