U.S. CDC recommends that travelers should still wear masks on airplanes

Health officials continue to recommend wearing of masks on planes, trains and buses despite court ruling.

Yesterday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended travelers continue to wear masks in airplanes, trains and airports despite a judge's April 18 order declaring the 14-month-old transportation mask mandate unconstitutional. The CDC stated that their recommendation was based on current COVID-19 circumstances and spread as well as the protective value of masks as it’s still a good idea to take precautions to protect yourself and others while traveling during the pandemic. Last month the Justice Department filed notice it will appeal the ruling, but the government has made no effort to seek immediate action to reinstate the mandate. Unless the CDC obtained a new extension, the mandate was set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3.

A CDC spokeswoman said, "As a result of a court order, the mask order is no longer in effect and is not being enforced." At a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg cast doubt on the idea that the administration wanted to reimpose the mask mandate. "The appeal concerns whether the CDC has the authority to (require masks) in this pandemic or in any pandemic, which is completely distinct from whether a mask mandate ought to be applied any given day," said Buttigieg. The Biden administration announced hours after the April 18 ruling that it would no longer enforce the mask regulation, prompting airlines to let passengers remove their masks mid-flight. According to passengers now, on some flights 10% or fewer travelers are wearing masks.