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Florida judge lifts US coronavirus mask mandate for planes and public transportation

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A federal judge in Florida has invalidated the national mask mandate for airplanes and other public transportation as exceeding the powers of U.S. public health officials amid the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle’s decision in Tampa Monday, an appointment made by former President Donald Trump, also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention improperly failed to reason its decision and failed to follow proper rule-making.

In her 59-page ruling, Mizelle said the only remedy is to overturn the rule nationwide because it was impossible to end it for the limited group of people who objected to the lawsuit.

The judge said “a limited appeal would be no appeal at all” and that the courts have full authority to make such a decision — even if the CDC’s goals in fighting the virus are commendable.

“Since our system does not allow authorities to act unlawfully, even when pursuing desirable goals, the court declares it unlawful and lifts the mask mandate,” she wrote.

The Justice Department declined to comment Monday when asked if the government plans to appeal the verdict.

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was not directly involved in the case but has campaigned against many state coronavirus requirements, praised the verdict in a statement on Twitter.

“Great to see a federal judge in Florida follow the law and reject the Biden mandate on transportation masks. Both the airline staff and the passengers deserve to see this misery end,” DeSantis tweeted.

The CDC recently extended the mask mandate, which was due to expire Monday, until May 3 to allow more time to investigate the BA.2 omicron subvariant of the coronavirus, now responsible for the vast majority of cases in the United States is

While the TSA will not enforce masks, the CDC still recommends that people continue to wear them.

“The authorities are reviewing the decision and evaluating possible next steps. Meanwhile, today’s court decision means the CDC’s public transit masking order is not currently in effect,” an administration official said in a statement. “As such, the TSA will not be enforcing its safety guidelines and emergency amendments mandating the use of masks on public transit and transportation hubs at this time. CDC recommends that people continue to wear masks on public transportation.”

Mask requirements for travelers have been the target of months of lobbying by airlines trying to kill them. The airlines argued that effective air filters on modern planes make in-flight transmission of the virus highly unlikely. Republicans in Congress also campaigned to kill the mandate.

Critics have seized on the fact that states have rolled back rules requiring masks in restaurants, stores and other indoor settings, and yet COVID-19 cases have fallen sharply since the Omicron variant peaked in mid-January.

There have been a number of violent incidents on planes, mostly attributed to disputes over mask requirements.

The lawsuit was filed in July 2021 by two plaintiffs and the Health Freedom Defense Fund, which the judge’s order describes as a nonprofit group that opposes “laws and regulations that compel individuals to comply with the administration of medical products, procedures and… subjugating devices against their will.”

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

https://abc13.com/mask-mandate-airplanes-public-transportation-covid/11764787/ Florida judge lifts US coronavirus mask mandate for planes and public transportation

Dais Johnston

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