25 APRIL 2022


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Article from BTNews 25 APRIL 2022

US masks the view

In a major rule reverse a US judge has overturned the long-running mask mandate and airlines and passengers responded swiftly. However travellers should watch out for any change of the rules.

On Monday (18 April), US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Micelle said the mandate was unlawful because it violated administrative law and exceeded the statutory authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As a result, the White House has confirmed the mask mandate is no longer in effect.

To confuse matters further Anthony Coley, the CDC director of public affairs, tweeted on Wednesday that a notice of appeal has been filed claiming the mask mandate for travel “remains necessary to protect the public health”.

An Idaho-based non-government organisation (NGO) called Health Freedom Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against the mask mandate last year, arguing it was unlawful and violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). Monday's ruling was a response to that lawsuit. The mask mandate came into effect early last year after US President Joe Biden assumed office. It required people aged two years and above to wear a face mask at all times while using public transport and related infrastructure across the country (such as airports). Last week, despite some expectations the mandate would end, the CDC extended it until 3 May.

Judge Micelle's noted that the CDC failed to adequately explain its decisions. The ruling reads: "The mask mandate exceeds to CDC's statutory authority and violates the APA. Because our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends, the Court declares it unlawful and vacates the mask mandate.

"Today's court decision means CDC's public transportation masking order is not in effect at this time", says a White House statement. "Therefore, TSA [Transportation Security Administration] will not enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs at this time".

Also see Flying in the United States in last week’s BTN.



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