A federal judge in Florida has voided the national mask mandate for travelers on U.S. airlines and public transportation, leaving many Southern California residents wondering if they’ll still need to mask up at Los Angeles area airports.
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention had initially announced plans to extend the mask mandate on public transportation through May 3 to allow for more time to observe and research a growing number of coronavirus cases linked to the BA.2 omicron subvariant. The new COVID-19 subvariant is responsible for the majority of all cases in the United States, the CDC said.
On Monday, a federal judge said the CDC did not have the authority to extend the mandate.
The Transportation Security Administration, which is responsible for enforcing the mask mandate for travelers, said the agency will no longer enforce the order on public transportation and at airports. The TSA also said it will rescind the extension order which was set to go into effect Tuesday.
While the TSA will not enforce the mask mandate, the CDC and the Biden administration is encouraging all passengers aboard planes and public transportation to mask up, regardless of the the court’s ruling, in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
So do travelers have to wear masks at LAX?
The short answer: no.
A spokesperson for LAX told KTLA Monday afternoon that the airport would follow the lead of the TSA, meaning the use of masks will not be enforced.
But should travelers still take the extra precaution?
The CDC says, probably. Current masking guidance from the CDC is unchanged. People are still encouraged to wear masks in public settings where there are a lot of people around. As the itch to travel returns for a lot of Americans, many planes, trains and buses are full or near capacity.
As for airline employees, most of the nation’s biggest airlines said crewmembers will be able to decide for themselves whether or not to wear a mask.
What about other airports in Southern California?
KTLA reached out to both the John Wayne Airport in Orange County and the Hollywood Burbank Airport regarding their plans for mask enforcement.
John Wayne said it was awaiting further direction as of Monday night.
Burbank airport on Tuesday morning said mask use is now optional, but reminded travelers that the CDC still recommends that people mask up while using public transportation.
“Mask or no mask, please be kind & respectful during this transition,” the airport tweeted.