The CDC and the airlines are focused on caution while the attorneys general are focused on politics. Only one of these will help speed along the recovery of tourism.
A group of 21 states led by Florida on Tuesday asked a U.S. judge to block a federal COVID-19 mandate requiring masks on airplanes and other forms of transportation.
The lawsuit is the latest in a series of recent legal challenges to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) public health order and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) directive that have been in place since February 2021 covering airports, trains, buses, ride-share vehicles and transit hubs.
The administration of President Joe Biden said earlier this month it would extend the transportation mask requirements through at least April 18 and is reviewing if they should be extended again.
The White House and CDC did not immediately comment.
State attorneys general joining the lawsuit include Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Utah and Virginia.
On Wednesday, the chief executives of American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and other carriers urged Biden to end the airplane mask mandate, which has resulted in significant friction on airplanes. The Federal Aviation Administration says since January 2021, there have been a record 6,900 unruly passenger incidents reported – and 70% involved masking rules.
Advocates of ending the ban point out that the vast majority of Americans live in places where the CDC has said it is safe to ditch indoor masks.
The CDC order said the mask mandate could help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in crowded transport settings.
Last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and U.S. Representative Beth Van Duyne jointly filed a lawsuit challenging the mandate. More than a dozen Republican lawmakers have filed a separate challenge in a federal court in Kentucky.
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