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Health Freedom Defense Fund Celebrates Mask Ruling
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Wednesday, April 20, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

Leslie Manookian, who has led anti-mask efforts in the Wood River Valley, Is celebrating following a federal judge’s decision to strike down a national mask mandate on airplanes and other public transportation.

The Transportation Security Administration announced it would no longer enforce a January 2021 directive that applied to airplanes, airports, buses, trains and taxis after U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa said the Centers for Disease Control circumvented requirements requiring public comment when its officials imposed a travel mask mandate in January 2021. The judge added that the CDC failed to justify the mandate under the specific language of federal law governing health emergencies.

The lawsuit had been brought by the Health Freedom Defense Fund and two Florida residents who alleged that the CDC exceeded its statutory authority and failed to abide by the federal Administrative Procedure Act.

“Unelected officials cannot do whatever they like to our personal freedoms just because they claim good motives and a desirable goal,” said Manookian, a Ketchum resident and president of the Health Freedom Defense Fund.

Officials of airlines, airports, subways and other transportation modalities and hubs can make their own decisions about masking. New York’s City’s public transit system is keeping the mask requirement in place. And travelers will find that the rules concerning masking are different at every airport.

The Salt Lake City International Airport is among those continuing to recommend that people be voluntarily masked. The airport is making masks available to passengers.

Airlines that have rescinded the mask requirement include United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and JetBlue Airways.

Mountain Rides bus service dropped its mask requirement, as did the Boise Airport.

The directive comes as the BA.2 omicron subvariant is causing new cases to arrive in some areas of the country.

Bellevue resident Anne Jeffery is among those who is not happy with the move. She has plan to get on a plane for the first time since the pandemic started and said the new ruling takes away the measure of comfort and security she anticipated feeling knowing her fellow passengers would be wearing masks.

"Not happy. We'll still wear masks," she said. "I think it is way too premature to stop wearing masks in airports and on planes."

 

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