(CNN) — A federal judge in Florida on Monday overturned the Biden administration’s mandate for the use of masks on airplanes and other public transportation.
U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle said the warrant was illegal because it exceeded the statutory authority of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and because its application violated administrative law.
An administration official said, “Agencies are reviewing the decision and evaluating possible next steps. In the meantime, today’s court ruling means the CDC’s order on public transportation masks is not not in force at the moment”. [Administración de Seguridad en el Transporte] will not enforce its safety and emergency guidelines requiring the use of face coverings on public transport and in transport hubs at this time. The CDC recommends people continue to wear face coverings on domestic public transportation.”
The CDC extended the mandate for the mask on public transportation the previous week, with the intention that it last until May 3. The requirement to wear masks on public transport applied to planes, trains and other means of transport and had been in place since the early stages of the pandemic in 2020.
A Biden administration official familiar with the White House decision previously told CNN the purpose of the extension was to gather more information and better understand the BA.2 subvariant of the coronavirus.
Covid-19 cases in the United States are on the rise, prompting universities and the city of Philadelphia to return to indoor mask mandates.
Dr. Vivek Murthy, the US Surgeon General, said last week that one of the reasons for the extension of the mandate for the use of masks on public transport was due to the increase in covid-19 cases. and risk scenarios produced by the journey.
“We bring a lot of people together in a closed environment for an extended period of time, and not everyone has the option not to travel,” Murthy said on SiriusXM’s “Doctor Radio’s Doctor Reports,” citing the need to travel for work as, for example, to keep your job or visit a sick mother. “Because it’s not necessarily an optional setting for people, and because, again, people congregate for a long time, that’s why the CDC chose to be on the safe side and recommend people to keep wearing masks.” .
The White House, Department of Homeland Security and CDC did not comment on the decision.
In his 59-page resolution, Mizelle suggests that the government’s implementation of the mandate, in which travelers who violate it are “forcibly removed from their plane seats, are denied boarding on the bus steps and turn away at the station gates,” was tantamount to “detention and quarantine,” which are not contemplated in the relevant law, he said.
“As a result, the mask mandate is best understood not as a sanitization, but as an exercise of the CDC’s power to conditionally release people to travel, despite fears that they could spread a communicable disease (and to detain or partially quarantine those who refuse.) But the power of parole and detention is generally limited to people entering the United States from a foreign country.”
Mizelle added that the warrant also did not correspond to a section of the law that would allow the detention of a traveler in the event of verification that they are infected.
“The mask mandate does not comply with any of these subsections,” the judge said. “It applies to all travellers, regardless of their origin or destination, and makes no attempt to classify them according to their health status.”
Mizelle was appointed as a Federal Court judge in 2020 by former President Donald Trump.