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Mask mandate lifted for travel
April 26, 2022
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, masks proved to be an effective and essential action against the spread of the virus. Though mask mandates were lifted among numerous public spaces, schools, and professions, the safety measure continued to be enforced for travel protocols to ensure public safety. However, on April 18, 2022, mask mandates across the country were lifted, most notably on airline travel.
A federal judge in Florida ruled U.S. health authorities do not have the power to uphold a national transportation mask requirement. As a result, TSA, or the Transportation Security Administration, ultimately declared that mask mandates would not apply in public transportation, including in planes and airports.
However, the new ruling did not align with recent extensions to mask mandates by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In their April 13, 2022 media statement, the CDC writes, “The CDC Mask Order remains in effect while CDC assesses the potential impact of the rise of cases on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and healthcare system capacity. TSA will extend the security directive and emergency amendment for 15 days, through May 3, 2022.” Less than one week following the ruling spread across the country, directly against the warnings of the CDC and the danger unmasked travel may bring to the health of Americans.
The announcement quickly made its changes to flight requirements, even mid-flight, causing upset among susceptible travelers. The announcement has led to widespread debate over its validity, and the conversation continues on whether or not it is too early to lift pandemic policies, while the virus continues.
I am on a plan with my 2 not-yet-eligible for vax kids & the pilot just announced that the mask mandate has just this minute ended. Ppl clapped & took off their masks. Here we are having boarded a plane with our kids. Very upset, @Delta, that this was announced mid flight.
— Brooke Tansley (@BrookeTansley) April 19, 2022
Although the country-wide mask mandate while traveling has lifted, each individual should still take precautions to feel safe. Possibly most importantly, it is crucial to assess, before your trip, the current COVID-19 statistics in the area you hope to travel into. You can choose to continue wearing your mask and encourage friends and family traveling with you to do so, too. Bringing along easily accessible cleaning supplies for surfaces on your transportation and hand sanitizer can provide a secure way to protect yourself against unwanted germs. Staying vaccinated is a reliable way to protect against the virus.
AHN Junior, Cameron Capaz (‘23) says, “As someone hoping to travel over the summer, I want everyone to feel safe traveling, including my family and friends. We want to be careful no matter what.”
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