A federal judge in Florida has voided the national mask mandate covering airplanes and other public transportation as exceeding the authority of US health officials in the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision Monday by US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention improperly failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rulemaking.
In her 59-page ruling, Mizelle said the only remedy was to vacate the rule entirely across the country because it would be impossible to end it for the limited group of people who objected to the lawsuit.
The CDC initially extended the mask mandate, which was set to expire Monday, until May 3 to allow more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant of the coronavirus that is now responsible for the vast majority of cases in the US
Critics have seized on the fact that states have rolled back rules requiring masks in restaurants, stores and other indoor settings, and yet COVID-19 cases have fallen sharply since the omicron variant peaked in mid-January.
But what does the latest ruling mean for the transportation agencies in the tri-state area? Here is where local public transit agencies stand when it comes to mask requirements on following news of the federal judge striking down the CDC mask mandate:
“We are continuing to follow CDC guidelines and will review the Florida court order,” MTA Communications Director Tim Minton told News 4 New York.
Meanwhile, in a statement to News 4 New York, Amtrak also confirmed that the agency’s mask mandate will remain in place for the time-being.
“As we have seen with the vaccine mandates, these court decisions are subject to review on appeal. Pending further information from TSA and FRA about their mask mandate guidance, Amtrak’s mask mandate remains in place,” Amtrak’s statement said.
In yet another statement to News 4 New York, NJ Transit also confirmed that they will continue to require masks on board their transportation.
“Masks will continue to be required onboard NJ TRANSIT vehicles while we continue to monitor the outcome of this case. NJ TRANSIT will continue to comply with all federal and state health guidance as we have since the onset of the pandemic,” NJ Transit said in its statement.
PATH did not immediately respond to News 4 New York’s requests for comment.