What to do when mask mandates start lifting: airlines, travel, and more.

April 20, 2022

On Monday, a federal judge in Florida struck down the federal transportation mask mandate. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said it would no longer enforce the rule, and large U.S. airlines and transportation companies announced masks were optional. Below are answers to some common questions that may arise.

What does the ruling mean?

The judge’s decision means the mask order handed down by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2021 is “not in effect at this time,” according to the White House.

The TSA said in a statement that because of the ruling, “effective immediately,” it would no longer enforce its security directives that required mask use on public transportation.

Do I still have to wear a mask?

In most transportation scenarios, no, you are not required to wear a mask. But remember that the mask mandate didn’t just apply to planes and airports. It also applied to trains, ferries, buses, ride-hailing vehicles, taxis, trolleys and other transportation hubs.

If you are planning on traveling, make sure to check with your vendor’s — hotel, cruise line, car service, and others — policies. Private companies are able to post mask mandates for their places of business. Some companies may require testing or other measures, so be sure to check before you go. If you're looking for an at-home testing solution, take a look at our On/Go rapid COVID-19 antigen test to see how it can fit into your travel needs.

Uber & Lyft have stated that they will no longer require riders and drivers to wear a mask in U.S. cities, but it said mask use is recommended.

What about airlines?

All major U.S. carriers said they would no longer enforce the mandate for both customers and crew in the United States, including United, Delta, American, Southwest, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue and Spirit.

Some international routes might require masks, depending on the rules at the destination. Make sure to check with the CDC international travel page before you go to ensure you have all you need for your trip.

What do health experts say?

Anyone concerned about getting infected with the coronavirus should still wear a face covering. Wearing a well-fitting N95 mask, leaving it on during the entire flight and staying up to date with vaccinations offers “considerable protection” said John Swartzberg, a professor of infectious diseases and vaccinology at University of California at Berkeley’s School of Public Health.

What now?

Masks are proven to help slow the spread of COVID-19. While not mandated, it is highly recommended — whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated — to wear a mask in crowded and high-traffic indoor areas. Use your judgment in situations where masks are optional.

You can learn more about COVID-19, mandates, and information on the CDC’s website.

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