Court ruling creates a hodgepodge of transport mask rules | national news

A Florida federal judge’s decision to scrap a national mask mandate for public transportation across the United States has created a confusing patchwork of rules for passengers as they navigate airports and transit systems .

The decision gives airports, transit systems, airlines and ride-sharing services the option to keep mask rules or drop them altogether, resulting in rules that vary by city and mode of transportation. .

Passengers on a United Airlines flight from Houston to New York, for example, could ditch the masks at their departure airport and on the plane, but should put them back on once they exit their flight in New York.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recently extended the mandate until May 3 to allow more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant of the coronavirus now responsible for the vast majority of US cases. But the court decision suspended the mandate.

Here’s a look at how U.S. shipping hubs and suppliers reacted:

AIRLINES COMPANIES

Major airlines were among the first to update their rules after the court ruling. United, Southwest, American, Alaska, Delta and JetBlue announced that effective today, masks will no longer be required on domestic flights.

“While this means our employees are no longer required to wear a mask — and no longer have to enforce a mask requirement for most travelers — they will be able to wear masks if they choose to, as the CDC continues to strongly recommend wearing a mask on public transportation,” United Airlines said.

The Association of Flight Attendants, the nation’s largest cabin crew union, recently took a neutral stance on masks because its members are divided on the issue. On Monday, the union president called for calm on planes and at airports.

Alaska Airlines said some passengers who were banned for violating the mask policy will remain banned.

AIRPORTS

Airports have not been so quick to remove masks, with many expressing uncertainty about the decision and taking a wait-and-see approach.

But others, including Houston’s two major airports, scrapped mask requirements soon after the Transportation Security Administration said it would no longer enforce the mandate. Los Angeles International, Phoenix Sky Harbor and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International have also eliminated their mask requirements. San Francisco International Airport said it was awaiting further guidance from the TSA.

New York airports have so far left masks in place, with the exception of Newark Liberty International Airport, which is located across the Hudson River in New Jersey where masks are now optional.

Massachusetts officials also announced an end to mask requirements at Boston Logan International Airport.

TRAIN AND BUS

In New York, Metropolitan Transportation Authority communications director Tim Minton said the system is keeping masks mandatory on subways, buses and commuter rail lines, as they have been since the start of the pandemic. .

But the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the New York area’s major airports as well as buses and trains, appears to have been caught off guard by Monday’s decision.

A spokesperson first said an order to wear masks “remains in effect as we continue to consult with state public health authorities.” The agency then issued a press release stating that masks are required at New York facilities, but optional at New Jersey facilities. Masks remain mandatory on Port Authority buses and trains traveling between the two states.

Mask requirements for Boston’s subways, buses and other public transportation were lifted on Tuesday, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority announced.

The transit agency serving Philadelphia and its suburbs announced that masks will no longer be required on its subways, buses and trains or in its stations and concourses.

The regional train system serving the Washington, DC area said Monday that masks will be optional for its customers and employees going forward.

Southern California’s five-county Metrolink passenger rail system also no longer requires people to wear face coverings. However, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation continue to have notices on the website that face masks are required.

In two of Alaska’s largest cities, masks will no longer be required on any form of public transportation, city officials in Anchorage and Juneau announced Tuesday.

Portland’s transit agency, TriMet, has also opted to make masks optional on its buses and trains.

Amtrak also said it was making masks optional.

———

FLATSHARING

Ride-sharing companies Lyft and Uber announced on their websites on Tuesday that masks will now be optional while riding or driving.

“We know that everyone has different levels of comfort, and anyone who wishes to continue wearing a mask is encouraged to do so. As always, drivers or passengers can refuse to accept or cancel any ride they don’t wish to do,” Lyft said. .

Both companies no longer require people to sit in the back seat, but Uber said “to give drivers space, we ask passengers to use the front seat only if necessary due to their group size.

Comments are closed.