(New York) The Department of Justice announced Tuesday evening that it would appeal the decision of the judge if the health authorities judge that the obligation to wear a mask must remain in force in transport.
Updated April 19
The administration “continues to believe that the mask-wearing requirement on transport is a good use of the authority that Congress has given to the CDC (Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, editor’s note) to protect health public,” she said in a statement.
A preventive tool, a source of sometimes violent conflict, the mask became optional on Tuesday for passengers, as for employees, in American planes, Uber vehicles and most public transport, a decision that arouses both cheers and annoyance in the USA.
“Finally,” exclaims a passenger on board a Delta plane just after the pilot came to announce in the cabin, in mid-flight, that the obligation to wear the mask was lifted “with immediate effect”, see- on in a video posted on Twitter. Applause erupts.
Washington had decided last week to extend the obligation to wear a mask on public transport until at least May 3. But a federal judge ruled on Monday that the health authorities were overstepping their prerogatives and reversed the decision, prompting the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) to lift the requirement.
The new instructions did not take long to fall.
The country’s major airlines, which for the most part made the mask mandatory in the spring of 2020, dropped the constraint in stride on Monday evening, followed by the rail company Amtrak. VTC companies Uber and Lyft followed suit on Tuesday morning.
The mask remains for the moment de rigueur in the New York subway and buses. And the authority overseeing New York airports had not immediately announced any changes.
With the decline of COVID-19, the rise in vaccination and weariness with wearing masks, local American authorities have gradually relaxed the instructions in recent months. But it was still necessary to cover your face on public transport.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday that the judge’s decision was “disappointing”.
Some are upset by these sudden changes.
Tatiana Prowell, professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins Health Center, noted on Twitter that she had received many messages from immunocompromised people with cancer worrying about traveling on flights without masks.
“In addition to wearing N95 masks, I advise them to travel on less busy days/times if possible,” she wrote, decrying the airlines’ “irresponsibility” for allowing mask removal mid-flight.
According to a YouGov poll of 7,802 adults on April 18, just before the judge’s decision, 63% of respondents support the obligation to wear a mask on public transport.
The Association of Flight Attendants – CWA has not taken a position on the subject because its members are divided on the question, underlined the president of the union, Sara Nelson, on the CNBC channel Tuesday.
Wearing a mask is a very sensitive subject for cabin crew members on planes who have had to deal with the reluctance of many passengers for two years, some becoming violent. The agency responsible for air transport safety in the United States, the FAA, has yet to be reported to 744 mask-related incidents since the start of the year.
“There is absolutely a sigh of relief from the crews, but there are also people who are really worried,” summarized Sara Nelson.
All transport organizations emphasize that everyone is free to continue wearing the mask, especially in the event of personal risk or a high level of transmission of COVID-19 in the region.
“We know that each person is more or less comfortable” with the new instructions, remarks Lyft in a message. Both drivers and passengers can “cancel any journey they do not wish to make”.