Federal judge overturns mask mandate for public transportation

BOSTON — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will no longer enforce the national mask mandate that went into effect more than a year ago for planes, trains and buses after a federal ruling Monday overturning the order.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of Florida struck down the order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), determining the CDC had exceeded its authority and finding the mandate unlawful.

“Due to today’s court ruling, effective immediately, TSA will no longer enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs,” the agency said in a statement Monday. “TSA will also rescind the new Security Directives that were scheduled to take effect tomorrow. CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time.”

On Tuesday morning, Massport said signs requiring masks are being taken down at Logan Airport.

“The mandate was a federal rule enforced by federal agencies. We are in transition due to the late decision last night by our federal partners and will be removing all signage about the mask mandate this morning,” according to a statement from Massport.

Major airlines began announcing Monday evening that masks are now optional for employees and passengers.

The CDC had extended the requirement through May 3 to study the latest COVID-19 subvariant.

“The CDC recommended continuing the order for additional time two weeks to be able to assess the latest science in keeping with its responsibility to protect the American people. So, this is obviously a disappointing decision,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday afternoon. “The CDC continues recommending wearing a mask in public transit. As you know, this just came out this afternoon. So right now, the Department of Homeland Security, who would be implementing and the CDC are reviewing the decision. And, of course, the Department of Justice would make any determinations about litigation.”

At Logan Airport, for the first few hours after the ruling, TSA agents continued to enforce the mandate, asking bare-faced travelers to mask up.

“I love it, I love the change. I’m not wearing a mask,” said Mario Colangelo, a Foxborough resident flying out of Logan Monday. “If I get thrown off the plane, then I’ll put it on. Otherwise, I don’t want it.”

But Colangelo didn’t even make it close to his plane before TSA asked him to put on a mask.

Later in the evening, as the change was communicated to TSA employees, travelers were able to bypass security mask-free.

The MBTA said the agency was reviewing the order.

“The MBTA is continuing to follow CDC guidelines and will review the court order,” the MBTA said in a tweet Monday afternoon. “The MBTA is also reaching out to its federal partners to get further guidance.”

In posts to social media on Tuesday morning, the T said masks are still required on all MBTA vehicles and in stations.

The Steamship Authority, which operates ferries between Cape Cod and the islands said on Tuesday morning that it continues to require masks on its vessels.

“We are continuing to follow CDC guidance and requiring masks to be worn at all times on our vessels, buses, and at terminals, “according to a post by the authority. ”We are reviewing the recent court order and reaching out to our federal partners to get further guidance. Thank you for your continued cooperation.”

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