SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A federal judge in Florida struck down the federal mask mandate for travelers that’s been in place since January 2021. This comes just days after the CDC had extended it. Some travelers are thrilled not to wear them anymore, while others are concerned.
“The flight attendant was speaking over the speaker, and she was like, as far as your masks, you don’t have to worry about those, and people literally cheered,” said Kailey Hall, describing her first flight without a mask in a long time.
While some travelers are relieved to not have to wear one, others say masks should be required a while longer.
“I think they should be required still, I think it’s too soon to not do that,” said Karen Munoz, a passenger waiting for her flight.
“Certainly, I’m sick and tired of wearing masks as is everybody, but I’m a critical care physician and I’ve been dealing with dying people for the past two years. I think it’s still out there and people are still getting sick,” said Matt Berenson, who was at the airport today.
The Biden administration says the TSA will not enforce masks on planes anymore. But even still — many are choosing to wear one, like one passenger we spoke to who said they still wear a mask because she has a little one at home that’s not vaccinated yet.
“It’s nice to not have to wear a mask anymore on an airplane just cause I think an airplane can be kind of long and uncomfortable and stuff, but at the same time, I think it’s good if you feel like you need to wear a mask you can still wear one to keep other people safe around you,” said Spencer Hall, who came with his family to pick up his sister after her flight.
The decision comes as the U.S. sees a rising number of cases — driven by Omicron subvariant BA-2.
“There’s a very high chance some people will be on the plane who are infectious, so it is concerning to have people be more vulnerable and exposed to this without masks on the plane,” said state epidemiologist, Dr. Leisha Nolen. She recommends wearing a high-quality mask and getting vaccinated to stay safe while traveling — especially for those that are at high risk.
United, American, Delta, Southwest, JetBlue, and Alaska Airlines — all confirming they will no longer make passengers mask up.
“I think it’s a good idea, I think everyone’s tired of COVID already,” said Edwina Farani, who just got off her flight.
“It’s great that people can live their lives the way they need to live them and be able to breathe,” said Gene Cope.
The CDC and Salt Lake City International Airport are still recommending masks for passengers traveling indoors. Masks will still be available at the airport for travelers that want one.