Justice Department to appeal order overturning travel mask warrant

By Michael Balsamo, Zeke Miller, Associated Press

Update: 2 hours ago Published: 3 hours ago

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is filing a lawsuit seeking to overturn a judge’s order that struck down the federal mask mandate on planes and trains and at travel centers, officials said Wednesday.

The notice came minutes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked the Justice Department to appeal the ruling by a federal judge in Florida earlier this week.

A notice of appeal has been filed in federal court in Tampa.

The CDC said in a statement Wednesday that it was continuing its “assessment that at this time, an order requiring masking in the domestic transportation corridor remains necessary for public health.”

It was unclear whether the Biden administration would ask the appeals court to grant an emergency stay to immediately reimpose the mask mandate on public transportation. An emergency stay of the lower court’s decision would be a boost for travelers and transit workers. Most airlines and airports, many transit systems and even ride-sharing company Uber lifted their mask-wearing requirements within hours of Monday’s decision.

A federal judge in Florida struck down the nation’s mass transit mask mandate on Monday, leading airlines and airports to swiftly repeal their requirements that passengers wear face coverings. The Transportation Security Administration said Monday it would no longer enforce the mask requirement.

[Judge’s ruling leaves a mishmash of transportation mask rules across the US]

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The CDC had recently extended the mandate for the mask, which was due to expire on Monday, until May 3 to allow more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant, which is now responsible for the vast majority of cases in the United States. . But the court ruling on Monday suspended that decision.

The CDC said it will continue to monitor public health conditions to determine if a warrant remains necessary. He said he believed the warrant was “a lawful order, well within the CDC’s legal authority to protect public health.”

Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said Wednesday evening that the department is filing the appeal “in light of today’s assessment by the CDC that an order requiring masking in the hallway transport remains necessary to protect public health”.

After a winter surge fueled by the omicron variant that caused record hospitalizations, the United States has seen a significant drop in the spread of the virus in recent months, leading most states and cities to drop mask mandates.

But several cities in the Northeast have seen an increase in hospitalizations in recent weeks, leading Philadelphia to bring back its mask mandate.