Dropping the mask mandate on flights


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Depending on the airline, passengers may still be required to wear a mask when traveling to other countries with mandates in place.

Taylor Schmitz, Entertainment Editor

After almost two years of government and airline-specific mask mandates on public transit, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle shut down the Biden administration’s decision on Monday, April 18.

The lifting of the mandate is the result of months of lobbying from Republicans in Congress and airlines who argue that air filters on planes make transmission of the virus highly unlikely. Other opponents of the previous mandate used the fact that states eased back on rules regarding other indoor settings like restaurants and stores and COVID-19 cases still continued to drop since January.

After the announcement was made public in airports across the country, passengers cheered as they were finally able to board their flight without masks.

“I honestly feel it’s okay, we have enough information, I feel like we have enough science behind it now, we know a whole lot more than we did,” said Brenda Hagen in an interview with Keloland News.

As case numbers decrease and mandates roll back, many are considering the recent decision as a sign of society returning back to normal.

“I feel better. Without (the mask), it feels more normal, back to how it was before,” said Sonya Yurchenko, another traveler.

However, as many rejoice, other passengers still feel like the decision is premature.

“Right now, we still feel like we still need to wear it,” said Josephine Vazquez, a United customer service representative in an interview with USA TODAY. “We don’t want any chance of getting sick, so we’re going to protect ourselves.”

Many airline passengers appear to feel the same way, keeping their masks on in the airport and during the flight.

“There are too many mutations, strains, (and we) have a very, very large portion of this country that is not vaccinated and serve as human petri dishes,” said traveler Al Zucker.

Regardless of the recent ruling and the split reaction from travelers, a Biden administration official is unsure if it will stay in place. For now, the Transportation Security Administration will not enforce the mask mandate as federal agencies continue to review the decision. As the topic continues to be discussed, the CDC still recommends that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings in order to stay safe.