Florida judge rescinds U.S. mask authorization for planes and other travel

A federal judge in Florida struck down a state mask mandate that covers planes and other public transportation for exceeding the authority of U.S. health officials.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball-Mizel’s decision in Tampa on Monday also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had improperly failed to justify its decision and followed proper rulemaking.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently extended the mask authorization, which was due to expire on April 18, to May 3 to allow more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant of the coronavirus, which is currently in U.S. causes vast majority of cases

The mask requirement for travelers has been the target of months of lobbying by airlines trying to kill it. Carriers believe the effective air filters on modern planes make it extremely unlikely that the virus will spread during a flight. Republicans in Congress are also fighting to kill the mission.

Critics have seized on the fact that states have lifted requirements for masks in restaurants, stores and other indoor settings, but COVID-19 cases have fallen sharply since the omicron variant peaked in mid-January.

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