Last month, a federal judge ruled that the mask mandate on airplanes, trains, airports, etc was flawed in its application by the CDC. This meant that, immediately, travelers were no longer required to wear masks onboard airplanes. I was flying in/to/from the US last month and can definitely say that those wearing masks anywhere in the air travel corridor are definitely the minority and even most flight attendants I saw were no longer wearing them (unless required by the destination). However, now the Biden Administration has asked the court to reverse that ruling (just hours before the deadline).
Biden Administration Wants the Mask Ruling Reversed
Shortly after the ruling to reverse the mask mandate came out, the Biden administration went from a do-what-you-want attitude to announcing that they were going to file an appeal. They proceeded to file a notice of appeal and did not request a stay during the process, which would have allowed the mask mandate to continue pending the outcome of the appeal.
Here we are just about a month later and hours before the filing deadline. I have to say that I think this is a huge mistake, if the administration is planning on snapping back the mask mandate in the case that the appeal is upheld. Americans have been flying mostly maskless for a month now and the FAA says that the rate of passenger incidents aboard airplanes has fallen to its lowest numbers since before the mask mandate was put into affect.
Not only that but flight attendants don’t want the mask mandate back. The many I had spoken to mentioned how glad they were that they were no longer required to wear them and that they did not have to constantly remind passengers to cover their nose and mouth during the flight. Airlines don’t want the mask mandate back, either.
From a political perspective, it would seem to be a very bad move for the administration to keep this alive and push the mask mandate back through when we have the mid-term elections coming up in a few months. So, for what possible reason is the Biden administration’s Justice Department asking for this ruling to be overturned?
Could This Be the Reason for the Appeal At This Time?
Not only have airlines been glad that the mask mandate is gone but airlines and companies and a whole lot of people are wanting the mandatory testing (before flying to the US) to be dropped as well. I have not met a single person that wants this testing requirement kept into place and many people have postponed foreign travel until it is removed. With many countries dropping all restrictions, many people have moved on with Covid, especially since many cases may be resembling anything from a minor cold to a flu (fever, fatigue, but nothing life threatening – for many). This was something that was noted last week that, for the first time, infections were rising without an increase in deaths.
I THINK that the reason the Justice Department is filing the appeal at all, let alone this long after the ruling, is because the Biden Administration does not want to let the mandatory testing drop. The (at the time) outgoing head of the government response to Covid gave an interview and said that the US wasn’t planning on letting the mandatory testing go at that point. Now there is a new director of the response and nothing has been said about testing going away.
I THINK that making a case for the mask mandate – and losing the appeal or winning it and letting the mandate stay dead – gives the administration a platform to make the case that testing still needs to be done, particularly during the summer tourist months. Who knows, maybe the government also likes that families may spend travel dollars inside the US instead of leaving the US and spending them elsewhere (and they would stay home out of fear of testing positive before returning).
At this point, I and millions of others think the testing should just go away. It does not stop Covid transmission, airlines are no longer being flexible with passengers who do test positive, and it is also keeping out foreign tourists who have not been to the US in quite a while – and with that, all of their spending.
The administration opted to go ahead and file an appeal on the mask mandate ruling just hours before the appeal deadline. It does not make sense for a variety of reasons unless they are really trying to argue the point that they did have the standing to make the mandate in the first place (to protect future CDC mandates) or that they do not want to drop the testing requirement for traveling to the US.
Hopefully, the mask mandate will stay gone and the testing requirement will soon join it! 🙂
What are your thoughts on this ruling?