A federal judge in Florida on Monday overturned the Centers for Disease Control’s mask mandate on travel, ruling that the agency had exceeded its statutory authority.
According to U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle from Tampa, Florida, the mandate “violates the procedures required for agency rulemaking.”
This means the federal travel mask mandate will not be enforced while the White House reviews the ruling.
“The agencies are reviewing the decision and assessing potential next steps. In the meantime, today’s court decision means CDC’s public transportation masking order is not in effect at this time,” according to a White House official.
The CDC has repeatedly extended the travel mask requirement, most recently until May 3.
Major airlines have moved to an “optional” policy, with some loudspeaker announcements prompting cheers from travelers.
On Monday night, United Airlines announced it would no longer enforce the mask requirement for domestic flights.
Flight attendants, however, “will be able to wear masks if they choose to do so, as the CDC continues to strongly recommend wearing a mask on public transit.”
Also on Monday, Alaska Airlines issued a statement saying that wearing a mask is no longer required.
Following the TSA announcement, Houston and Dallas airports lifted their mask mandates almost immediately.
Los Angeles International Airport, the sixth busiest airport in the world, has also abandoned the mandate.
The CDC continues to encourage masks on public transportation and “I think that’s good advice,” said Heath Montgomery, a spokeswoman for LAX.
Even though the ruling is still under review, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday that the Biden administration continues to urge passengers to wear face masks.
“We would say to anyone sitting out there — we recommend you wear masks on the airplane,” she said, adding, “As soon as we can provide an update from here, hopefully soon, we’ll provide that to all of you.”