A federal judge in Florida struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) mask mandate for travel on airplanes and other mass transit.
Judge Kathryn Kimball’s ruling will apply to flights, buses, and trains.
The CDC recently extended the mask order through May 3, citing the BA.2 subvariant of omicron.
In her ruling, Judge Kimball wrote that the mandate “exceeded the CDC’s statutory authority, improperly invoked the good cause exemption to notice and comment rulemaking, and failed to adequately explain its decisions.” She added, “because ‘our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even if the pursuit of desirable ends,’ the Court declares unlawful and vacates the Mask Mandate.”
Judge Kimball concluded that she was “remanding it to the CDC for further proceedings consistent with this order.”
Airlines have been lobbying for the mandate to be removed.
A recent letter signed by Airlines for America, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Travel Association said that “with declining hospitalization rates, increased immunity, widely available vaccines and cutting-edge treatments on the horizon, America is reaching an inflection point where endemic-focused policies can replace pandemic-driven restrictions.”
“As leading U.S. travel and business organizations, we respectfully urge the Administration to chart a clear course for replacing pandemic-era travel advisories, requirements and restrictions with endemic focused policies of a ‘new normal’ that enable travel to resume fully, freely and safely,” the letter continued.
Ed Bastian of @Delta on mask mandates: “I think lifting the mask mandate will be one step towards reestablishing and normal behavioral patterns on board the aircraft as well as in the airports.” #PostLive pic.twitter.com/wRM6b7V9dg
— Washington Post Live (@PostLive) April 18, 2022
The Justice Department is permitted to file an appeal and attempt to block the ruling, but it is not clear if they will.
The 35-year-old judge was appointed to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida by former President Donald Trump in 2020. At 33, she was the youngest person chosen by the former president for a lifetime federal appointment.
This is a breaking story and Timcast will provide additional information as it becomes available.