UPDATE (4/20/22): The U.S. Department of Justice is filing an appeal seeking to overturn a judge's order ending the national mask mandate covering planes and other forms of public transportation. This comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asked the DOJ to appeal the decision. The original story continues as written below:
On April 18, a federal judge in Florida overturned the national mask mandate covering planes and other forms of public transportation. This comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently extended the mandate through May 3 to allow more time to study omicron subvariant BA.2.
The latest development has led to confusion for some travelers, with Google Trends data showing that people are searching for whether airlines are still requiring masks on U.S. flights.
Are masks still required on U.S. flights?
No, masks are no longer required on U.S. flights for now. The CDC says the mandate requiring masks on public transportation is no longer in effect as of Monday, April 18.
WHAT WE FOUND
The CDC says on its website that the order requiring masks on public transportation and at transportation hubs such as airports is no longer in effect as of April 18, 2022. Though the CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks indoors, the public health agency will not enforce the mandate.
Most major airlines in the U.S. have also posted statements to their websites about masks being optional on U.S. flights following the ruling.
Alaska Airlines wrote in a statement that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is no longer enforcing the mask mandate – and the airline will not, either.
“Due to a judicial decision in our federal court system, the mask mandate has been overturned, which means our guests and employees have the option to wear a mask while traveling in the U.S. and at work,” Alaska’s statement reads in part.
The White House also announced that “the masking order is not in effect,” and TSA will not enforce it at this time, Southwest Airlines said in a statement.
Other major U.S. airlines, including Delta, United and American, also shared updates on their websites or via social media confirming that masks are now optional for all airport employees, team members and customers inside U.S. airports and on board planes.
Alaska cautioned travelers that individual airports may still require people to wear masks, and clarified that passengers must continue wearing masks on flights to and from Canada.
Several airports, including Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington state, have said masks are optional following the ruling. Portland International Airport also told VERIFY sister station KGW that people in the airport are no longer required to wear masks.
VERIFY has reached out to the White House for a statement on the judge’s ruling.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
More from VERIFY: Yes, COVID-19 tests can detect omicron subvariant BA.2