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A decision by a federal judge in Florida to throw out a national mask mandate for public transportation across the United States created a confusing patchwork of rules for passengers as they navigate airports and transit systems.
The ruling gives airports, mass transit systems, airlines and ride-hailing services the option to keep mask rules or ditch them entirely, resulting in rules that vary by city and mode of transportation.
Passengers on a United Airlines flight from Houston to New York, for example, could ditch masks at their departing airport and on the plane, but would have to put them back on once they get off their flight in New York.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this past week had extended the mandate until May 3 to allow more time to study the BA. 2 omicron subvariant of the coronavirus now responsible for the vast majority of U.S. cases.
Major airlines were some of the first to update their rules after the court decision.
United, Southwest, American, Alaska, Delta and JetBlue announced that effective immediately masks no longer would be required on domestic flights.
Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids posted on Twitter Tuesday morning that, “Passengers, employees and guests are no longer required to wear masks or face coverings in the terminal.”
The tweet included a link to the TSA statement from Monday.
Most airports weren't as fast to do away with masks, with several expressing uncertainty about the ruling and taking a wait-and-see approach.
But others, including the two main airports in Houston, did away with mask requirements soon after the Transportation Security Administration said it would no longer enforce the mandate.
Los Angeles International, Phoenix Sky Harbor and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International also eliminated their mask requirements. San Francisco International Airport said it was waiting for further guidance from TSA.
New York City airports so far have left masks in place, with the exception of Newark Liberty International Airport, where masks are now optional.
Amtrak, meanwhile, said it was making masks optional as did ride-sharing companies Lyft and Uber.