Biden administration appeals decision to lift mask mandate on transportation

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The U.S. government is appealing a court ruling that controversially lifted a federal mask mandate on public transportation earlier this week, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

After the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation’s leading health agency, ruled that masks remain “necessary to protect public health, the Department filed a notice of appeal,” the official said. spokesman Anthony Coley.

A U.S. federal judge on Monday overturned the Covid-19 mask warrant, saying it exceeded the CDC’s statutory authority.

Policymakers in Washington had decided the previous week to extend it until May 3.

Although the public has a ‘strong interest’ in combating the spread of Covid, the mask mandate ‘exceeded the CDC’s statutory authority’ and it ‘did not properly explain its decisions’, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of the Florida Intermediate District said in her ruling.

Several major airlines later dropped mask requirements on domestic and some international flights, while ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft as well as passenger rail Amtrak also announced an end to mask mandates. .

When Covid-19 first arrived in the United States in 2020, masks quickly became one of the defining political issues of the pandemic.

Mask policy across the country has been a hodgepodge, often left in the hands of local authorities. But overall, the federal government stuck to the mandate for planes, trains and buses.

This has created major headaches for transport staff, particularly on planes, who have had to deal with passengers reluctant to mask themselves, some of whom have been violent.

The Federal Aviation Administration, the agency in charge of US air transport safety, has received 744 reports of mask-related incidents so far this year.

The government’s appeal could create new headaches after the mandate is lifted and possibly create tension for travelers if it is reinstated.

The CDC “continues to recommend that people wear masks on all domestic public transportation,” it said in a statement.

“As we’ve said before, wearing masks is most beneficial in crowded or poorly ventilated areas, like the transportation corridor.”

The health agency said it will continue to assess the situation to determine if such a requirement remains necessary in the future.

The United States is currently experiencing a further increase in the number of daily cases of Covid-19, linked to the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron.

Polls suggest continued majority support for indoor mask mandates, but with a clear minority opposed.

A YouGov America poll conducted on April 18 found that 63% “strongly” or “somewhat” supported the US government’s requirements for masks on public transportation.

(AFP)

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