A federal judge in Florida voided the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national mask mandate for travel on planes and other public transportation on Monday, but local officials said masks will still be required in New York City taxis, and on MTA buses and trains.
In a statement released Monday night, MTA Communications Director Tim Minton said the agency’s mask mandate “remains in effect for now pursuant to a March 2, 2022 determination by the New York State Department of Health.”
And while Uber and Lyft announced they will no longer require drivers and riders to wear masks nationwide, the two ride-hailing services are still required to mandate masks in New York City, since they are considered for-hire vehicles and are subjected to the same rules as other for-hire vehicles, sources said Tuesday.
Staten Island Ferry, NYC Ferry and New York City taxi and for-hire vehicle passengers will also still be required to mask up, their operators confirmed in separate statements Tuesday.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, for its part, said its New York City transit hubs — including the Port Authority Bus Terminal, the George Washington Bridge Bus Station, the World Trade Center Oculus, LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport — will still require masks.
Newark Liberty International Airport and Teterboro Airport in New Jersey will not, the agency said, citing the Garden State's new COVID-19 guidance. The Port Authority’s mask mandate does remain in effect "for the interstate PATH System (including stations and platforms, with the exception of open-air platforms),” it said.
New York Waterway will also no longer require masks at terminals and on ferries and buses, a spokesperson said. But face coverings will be required on its Newburgh-Beacon and Haverstraw-Ossining routes, as they are subject to MTA rules, the spokesperson added.
Nationwide, the fallout from the judge’s ruling was immediate, as various transportation entities released statements explaining what their policies would be moving forward.
A White House official on Monday confirmed the Transportation Security Administration would no longer enforce masking at airports, while noting they are still reviewing the judge's decision.
"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," a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement.
"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,” the spokesperson added.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the White House is "continuing to recommend people wear masks" on public transportation.
Individual airlines, however, began to come out with their own policies.
United Airlines, Delta Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest and American Airlines confirmed they would not enforce masking on their flights. Some passengers said they were excited to not wear masks anymore.
"I don't believe it's providing us any extra benefit," said Christina Rubino, who was at LaGuardia Airport to travel to Dallas.
Rubino said she expected planes to still have people wearing masks. Vivek Gopalan, who was flying to Detroit, said he would be one of them.
"Each one of us has a family, for everyone's safety, I feel it's good to wear a mask," he said.
Meanwhile, Amtrak said it would no longer require masks on board trains or in stations, but added that it would continue to encourage riders to wear them.
"While Amtrak passengers and employees are no longer required to wear masks while on board trains or in stations, masks are welcome and remain an important preventive measure against COVID-19," Amtrak said in a statement. "Anyone needing or choosing to wear one is encouraged to do so."
Greyhound on Tuesday also said it would no longer require masks on its buses or inside its facilities — with an exception for passengers traveling into Canada and Mexico from the U.S. — but noted that localities could override that guidance.
There is always a chance the Justice Department appeals Monday's ruling. There was no comment from the federal agency as of Monday evening.
The mandate was set to expire Monday, but the Biden administration recently extended it to May 3 due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.