U.S. Justice Department appeals transportation mask ruling – Metro US

U.S. Justice Department appeals transportation mask ruling

FILE PHOTO: Travellers at Logan Airport after mask mandate struck
FILE PHOTO: Travellers at Logan Airport after mask mandate struck down in Boston

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday appealed a judge’s ruling ending a mask mandate on public transportation and airplanes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the measure was still needed.

A U.S. district judge ruled on Monday that the mandates, which apply to planes, trains and other public transportation, were unlawful. The Justice Department said it would appeal the ruling if the CDC determined the 14-month-old mandate was still needed.

The Justice Department filed notice appealing the ruling to the 11th Circuit Court, but did not detail if it intended to seek an emergency order to reinstate the requirement or detail the grounds for the appeal.

The CDC said on Wednesday it had asked the Justice Department to proceed with the appeal and that “an order requiring masking in the indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for the public health.”

Airlines quickly dropped the mandate Monday evening soon after the White House informed reporters and industry officials that the government would no longer enforce the mandate. Social media users posted videos of airline employees on some trips announcing the mandate had ended mid-flight with many cheering the news, while some expressed anger that the mask rules were abruptly dropped.

The mandate applied to planes, trains, ride-share vehicles and other public transportation and, prior to Monday’s ruling, had been due to expire on May 3 unless the CDC sought a new extension.

The U.S. Travel Association said Wednesday that “masks were critically important during the height of the pandemic” but in the current environment “required masking on public transportation is simply out of step with the current public health landscape.”

The ruling followed other court judgments against Biden administration directives to fight the infectious disease that has killed nearly 1 million Americans, including vaccination or COVID testing mandates for employers.

The CDC also lost court battles on COVID-19 mandates, notably when the Supreme Court in August ended the pandemic-related federal moratorium on residential evictions.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler, Stephen Coates & Simon Cameron-Moore)