Travel Mask Mandate Deemed Unlawful

Anjeli Webb, Photojournalist

On April 18th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement saying that it would “not enforce” an order that was put into place on January 29, 2021, requiring people using public transportation to wear masks. The CDC’s rationale regarding this change was a court order by Federal Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle that struck down the mandate because “the CDC had failed to adequately explain its reasons for the mandate, and did not allow public comment in violation of federal procedures for issuing new rules.”

One common misconception is that lifting mask mandates means that people who would prefer to wear masks will not allow them to do so. However, this is contrary to the reasonable truth that they will be allowed to. According to United Airlines, “while [the lifting of the CDC mandate] means that our employees are no longer required to wear a mask – and no longer have to enforce a mask requirement for most of the flying public – they will be able to wear masks if they choose to do so, as the CDC continues to strongly recommend wearing a mask on public transit.”

Once the mandate was rendered obsolete, many major airlines stopped requiring masks as well. It is evident that many people were elated to hear that masks were no longer required in-flight as seen in this video, where Southwest Airlines passengers clap and cheer in response to the news. This USA Today video shows a JetBlue flight attendant singing jubilantly to airplane passengers, instructing those who chose to dispose of their masks to throw them away as he came around.

However, some travelers were less than pleased at the sudden upheaval. An example of this type of reaction can be seen in this video, where traveler Teresa Therence called the decision “worrisome” and expressed a desire to “distance [herself] from even more people.” Another flier Laura Wideman stated that “it’s a lot about having the freedom to choose to mask or not mask depending on what [her] situation is.”

YLHS student Preston Croghan (10)  has his own opinion on this topic. He thinks that the removal of the travel mask mandate is “one step closer to normalcy.” Parallels can be drawn to the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD)’s approach to their lifting of the mask requirement on February 28th. Many students come to school unmasked, and those who wish to wear their face covering do so. The unifying factor in both situations is that students, teachers, and staff have the choice to do whichever they please.