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DOJ asks court to reverse order lifting travel mask mandate

Virus Outbreak Europe Air Travel
Posted at 1:20 PM, Jun 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-03 16:41:41-04

The Biden administration is trying to open the door for masks on planes once again. 

“People don’t like wearing masks, especially when they dropped that law. They were just freewheeling,” said traveler Bryan Williams.

The Justice Department asks a federal appeals court to overturn an April order that undercut the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s authority on masks and effectively lifted the mandate in the skies. 

Leaving it up to each passenger. 

“I’m comfortable because I believe the virus at this point is devolving. The most contagious strains seem to be less severe,” said Dr. Dan Berk. 

Now, the Justice Department says the mandate is within the CDC’s authority. 

But it’s not exactly clear if the TSA and airlines would start enforcing the mandate again if the ruling were overturned. 

"I think when you look at the number of people in the terminal, and that’s who you’re actually exposed to, as you’re milling around getting on the plane and picking up your bags and checking into the desk, there's a very high chance you're going to run into someone who's infected,” said Infectious Disease Expert Robert Schooley.

The CDC recommends people with compromised immune systems mask up and suggests everyone do it on public transport. 

“We haven’t heard anything of it much lately. But I prefer to wear a mask. It keeps me safe,” said Ashley Washington, a West Palm Beach, Florida resident.

Since masks came off, unruly passenger reports have sped up a downward trend. 

A big relief for flight attendants and passengers in the line of fire. 

Some of the strain is thanks to airline staffing shortages.

"Now, faster than expected, the demand has come roaring back, and they are struggling to keep up. That's true whether we're talking about flight attendant crews, whether we're talking about pilots. So we've got to make sure that we've got short-term and long-term approaches," said Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

That means adjusting schedules in the near term, hiring in droves in the long term, and – among airline leadership – hoping the U.S. government won’t force a messy return of in-flight masks.

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