ORLANDO, Fla. – After about two years of masking up on public transportation, wearing face coverings is now optional for travelers.
“We’re elated. There’s thousands of us that are communicating today that are pilots and flight attendants that are ecstatic,” flight attendant Tammy Gipp said.
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She said the masks have been a headache. Gipp said not only have they impacted her health, but they have caused passengers to become unruly.
The White House issued a statement Monday noting the Transportation Security Administration will not enforce masks, even though the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is still recommending them.
The decision followed a ruling from U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa. She voided the national mask mandate covering airplanes and other public transportation.
Gipp and Leonardo McDonell, a passenger, are a part of a group called Americans Against Mask Mandates. They have pending litigation against select airlines, TSA and the CDC.
McDonell recalled an incident with an airline when he was “harassed” by airline employees for not wearing a mask.
“I have a deviated septum, so I only breathe out of one nostril,” McDonell said.
He said he showed proof of medical exemption and was still told to exit the plane. Now, he is thrilled to hear the mask mandate was overturned.
So is Jacqueline Saraiva.
“I’m kind of happy with that because I’m tired of wearing masks,” she said.
Saraiva hopes it continues to be optional.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) posted a statement on Twitter, urging calm and patience as they wait for further instructions. The group said it can take up to 48 hours to implement new procedures.
Immediately, we urge calm & consistency in airports & on planes. The last thing we need for workers on the frontlines or passengers traveling today is confusion & chaos. Check the latest updates from airlines for specific travel requirements. Read more: pic.twitter.com/6px0OGDCZG— AFA-CWA (@afa_cwa) April 18, 2022
Other airlines have not yet announced changes in their policies.
The AFA asked everyone to continue to follow crew member instructions, reminding passengers disruptive behavior has serious consequences and puts everyone at risk.
Although the mandate has been lifted, some doctors said it is still too soon. They are encouraging travelers to stay masked up.