US Department of Justice appeals ruling on mask mandate for travelers – National

The Justice Department is filing an appeal seeking to overturn a judge’s order that struck down the federal mask mandate on planes and trains and at travel hubs, officials said Wednesday.

The notice came minutes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked the Justice Department to appeal the decision handed down by a federal judge in Florida earlier this week.

A notice of appeal was filed in federal court in Tampa.

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Biden administration to appeal mask mandate ruling if CDC deems necessary

The CDC said in a statement Wednesday that they “continue to assess that an order requiring the use of masks in the interior transportation corridor for public health remains necessary at this time.”

It was unclear whether the Biden administration would ask the appeals court to grant an emergency stay to immediately reimpose the mask mandate on public transportation. An emergency suspension of the trial court’s ruling would be a whiplash for commuters and transit workers. Most airlines and airports, many public transportation systems and even ride-sharing company Uber lifted their mask-wearing requirements in the hours after Monday’s decision.

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A federal judge in Florida struck down the national mask mandate for public transportation on Monday, prompting airlines and airports to quickly roll back their requirements that passengers wear face coverings. The Transportation Security Administration said Monday that it will no longer enforce the mask requirement.

The CDC had recently extended the mask mandate, which was due to expire Monday, until May 3 to allow more time to study the omicron BA.2 subvariant, which is now responsible for the vast majority of US cases. Monday’s court ruling had put that decision on hold.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: US removes mask mandates on domestic flights, public transportation'

COVID-19: US Removes Mask Mandates on Domestic Flights and Public Transportation

COVID-19: US Removes Mask Mandates on Domestic Flights and Public Transportation

The CDC said it will continue to monitor public health conditions to determine if a mandate is still necessary. He said he believes the mandate is “a legal order, within the legal authority of the CDC to protect public health.”

Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said late Wednesday that the department was filing the appeal “in light of today’s CDC assessment that an order requiring the use of masks in the workplace continues to be necessary.” transportation corridor to protect public health.

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The Biden administration has offered mixed messages in the wake of Monday’s ruling. While officials said Americans should heed the CDC’s guidance, even if it was no longer a requirement, Biden himself suggested they had more flexibility to mask up during transit.

“That’s up to them,” Biden said during a Tuesday visit to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Nonetheless, the White House continues to require face coverings for those traveling with him on Air Force One, citing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Click to play video: 'Mask use on airlines will continue in Canada'

The use of masks on airlines will continue in Canada

The use of masks on airlines will continue in Canada

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that Biden still encourages Americans to wear masks when traveling and that she had been “answering the question literally” a day earlier.

“People are not legally required to wear masks,” he said, after the court order. “So, it’s a time where it’s up to people, it’s their choice, in that sense.

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After a winter surge fueled by the omicron variant that led to record hospitalizations, the US has seen a significant drop in the spread of the virus in recent months, prompting most states and cities to lift lockdown mandates. use of masks.

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Canada to keep mask mandate for planes and trains after US drops rule: officials

But several cities in the Northeast have seen a spike in hospitalizations in recent weeks, prompting Philadelphia to bring back its mask mandate.

The appeal drew criticism from the US Travel Association, which along with other industry groups had been pushing the Biden administration for months to end mandatory mask-wearing for travel.

“Masks were critically important during the height of the pandemic,” said Tori Emerson Barnes, the group’s executive vice president of public affairs and policy, “but with low hospitalization rates and multiple effective health tools now widely available, from boosters to therapies and high-quality air ventilation on board aircraft, the use of masks in public transport is simply not in tune with the current public health landscape.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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