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'People should have freedom' | Opinions split as Quad Cities International Airport drops mask requirement

The airport dropped the mandate after a federal judge struck down the Biden administration's transportation mandate for face coverings.

MOLINE, Ill. — Face coverings and opinions on them were split at the Quad Cities International Airport following a federal judge's decision to strike down a Biden administration extension for federal mask mandates while traveling. 

The mandate was revoked on April 18 after U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention exceeded the authority of U.S. health officials by requiring masks on airplanes and other public transportation. 

Following the announcement, QC MetroLINK revealed face coverings would become optional on all Quad Cities Metro buses. The Quad Cities International Airport also dropped its mandates and now no longer requires masks for employees or passengers. The mandate had been in effect at the airport since May 1, 2020. 

RELATED: Masks optional: MetroLINK, QC Airport loosen restrictions following federal judge's ruling

In a statement, the airport said, "We are monitoring this rapidly evolving situation and still suggest people contact their airline and be aware of any requirements that may still be in place at their final destination." 

Days after the mandates were dropped, mask usage was split at the airport. On Wednesday morning a little more than half of the airport crowd was seen wearing a face covering. 

Moline resident Jim Norris wore his mask throughout check-in and his flight, telling News 8 it was the first flight he had been on in roughly a decade and he preferred to wear a covering to stay safe. 

"Why not? It's not hard to do," Norris said. "I just want to be super safe. That's the reason why. And the virus is still out there and I'd like to continue to wear this mask." 

He said while he would have preferred for the mask mandate to remain in place, he understood why others were tired of wearing them. 

Other passengers, like Burlington resident Mary Ann Mcguire, chose to go maskless during check-in and then wear a covering during the flight. 

"It's kind of like why not. It's easy to do! Even if I'm not concerned about the person next to me having Covid, they might have a cold, might have the flue and it's a pretty easy safeguard," she said. "To me it's a no-brainer." 

RELATED: Judge's mask ruling may not be final say, Justice Department says

However, others were excited about the chance to ditch the covering for the first time in two years. 

"I think it's great! We don't need 'em," said East Moline resident Gerald Unzel. "We had our shots. It's ridiculous. I'm just tickled to death that we don't have to wear masks no more. I don't have to feel like a lone ranger." 

Table Grove resident Kristy Boggs was at the airport on Wednesday to drop off her child. She said the mandate should have been dropped a long time go. 

"People should have freedom, people should have choices," Boggs said. "I think it's a good thing. I think masks are stupid. It's about government power and control, it has nothing to do with safety. It's about oppression." 

If the CDC decides there's a public health basis for reinstating the mandate, the Department of Justice has said it will appeal.    

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