Coronavirus: Justice Department to appeal ruling that voided indoor transportation mask mandate

The Department of Justice on Wednesday said it is filing an appeal seeking to overturn a Florida federal judge’s order that voided the mask mandate on planes, trains and other forms of transportation, officials said.

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The appeal came moments after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that it had asked DOJ to appeal a federal court ruling striking down its masking mandate after deciding that “an order requiring masking in the indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for the public health.”

Justice Department spokesperson Anthony Coley said Wednesday night that the department was filing the appeal “in light of today’s assessment by the CDC that an order requiring masking in the transportation corridor remains necessary to protect the public health.”

“CDC will continue to monitor public health conditions to determine whether such an order remains necessary. CDC believes this is a lawful order, well within CDC’s legal authority to protect public health,” the CDC said in a statement. “CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in all indoor public transportation settings. CDC’s number one priority is protecting the public health of our nation.”

In a statement Tuesday, Coley said the DOJ and CDC disagreed with U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle’s ruling on Monday that the transportation mask mandate exceeded the authority of national health officials.

Several major airlines, airports and attractions made face coverings optional following the judge’s decision Monday, The Associated Press reported. In a statement Monday night, the Transportation Security Administration said it “will no longer enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs.”

According to the AP on Tuesday, a train conductor in New Jersey told commuters of their masks Tuesday, “Feel free to burn them at will.” New York City, Chicago and Connecticut, however, continued to require masks for travelers.

Before Mizelle’s ruling, the Biden administration had extended the requirement for masks on planes, trains, and inside airports through May 3, CNN reported.