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Minnesota airports, transit systems drop mask mandates in wake of federal court ruling

Apr 19, 2022 11:50AM ● By Editor
A sign at a Metro Transit light rail station in St. Paul advises riders of a requirement to wear face coverings on public transit on July 31, 2021. That requirement is no longer in effect, after a federal judge on Monday tossed out a federal mask mandate. Photo: Andrew Krueger | MPR News 2021

From Minnesota Public Radio News • April 19, 2022


Metro Transit and several other public transit agencies around Minnesota have stopped requiring riders to wear face coverings, in the wake of Monday's federal court ruling striking down a national mask mandate.

Travelers passing through Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport terminals and other airports around the state also are no longer required to wear masks — though some agencies are still recommending that passengers wear face coverings while traveling.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to remind and recommend that masks be worn in indoor transportation settings — but at the same time the order requiring masks on transit, the TSA order, is not in effect, and there are no local mask requirements that are in effect at this time," Metro Transit spokesperson Drew Kerr told MPR News Tuesday morning.

The Minnesota Valley Transit AuthorityRochester Public Transit and Duluth Transit Authority also are no longer requiring riders to wear masks on their buses.

Without a federal mandate in effect, Rochester transit officials said Tuesday, "RPT will now follow the official city of Rochester policy which does not require the wearing of masks in city-owned facilities, including transit vehicles. The City and RPT still welcome the use of masks on board buses for whoever wishes to wear them and encourage unvaccinated and immunocompromised individuals to consider wearing facial coverings."

Officials with the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which oversees MSP, said Monday night that "wearing masks will be optional after the Transportation Security Administration issued guidance that it will no longer enforce mask-related regulations and will be withdrawing security directives that required face masks at airports, on aircraft and other forms of public transportation."

Officials at the Duluth airport posted a similar statement.

Airlines quickly dropped their mask requirements after Monday's court ruling — including Delta, which posted a statement saying it was "relieved to see the U.S. mask mandate lift to facilitate global travel as COVID-19 transitions to a more manageable respiratory virus — with better treatments, vaccines and other scientific measures to prevent serious illness."

Delta said its passengers and staff were welcome to continue wearing masks if they choose, and asked travelers for patience with possible "inconsistent enforcement" this week "given the unexpected nature of this announcement."

Sun Country Airlines issued a statement saying "we look forward to seeing your smiles on board and encourage kindness and respect for those who continue to mask."

In an email to customers Tuesday morning, ride-sharing company Uber said masks were recommended but no longer required, the Associated Press reported.

In a 59-page lawsuit ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overstepped its authority in issuing the original health order on which the TSA directive was based. She also said the order was fatally flawed because the CDC didn’t follow proper rulemaking procedures.

The CDC had recently extended its mask mandate, which was set to expire Monday, until May 3 to allow more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant of the coronavirus now responsible for the vast majority of cases in the U.S. The court ruling puts that decision on hold.

To see the original report and read related stories, follow this link to the MPR News website.

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