mask mandate

Bay Area Reacts to Court Overturning Mask Mandate on Public Transportation

NBC Universal, Inc.

A federal judge in Florida struck down the U.S. government’s mask mandate aboard planes, trains, buses and all other public transportation Monday, saying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order exceeds the agency's authority.

At San Francisco International Airport, most passengers said they don’t plan on changing their mask travel habits regardless of the ruling. 

Uber says that riders and drivers are no longer required to wear masks while using the service.

“Personally, I'm doing it to protect my closest family and friends, regardless of if we have them or not, regardless, I'm still going to wear it if I'm on public transportation or not,” said Walter Torrez of Daly City. 

While some were happy about the judge’s order.

“I saw the order. I think it's great, I think we shouldn't have to wear masks,” said Bill Pierce, a Bakersfield resident.

The ruling says the CDC’s mandate oversteps its authority, the same mandate that was recently extended to May 3 over concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 BA.2 variant.    

The Transportation Security Administration quickly followed suit, no longer requiring masks.

Passengers arriving from Newark, New Jersey heard the news while in the air.

NBC Bay Area’s Raj Mathai spoke to Dr. Abraar Karan, infectious disease expert at Stanford, and Doug Rice, a former pilot with American Airlines, about the new court ruling that overturned the mask mandate on public transportation, including airplanes.

NBC Bay Area’s Planning Editor Takena Russell was on that Newark to San Francisco flight when the captain broke the news that passengers no longer had to cover their faces.  

“Immediately a flight attendant came on and said she’s happy about it and she’s going to be wearing her red lipstick,” said Russell.

She said some passengers applauded while others let people on the plane know they disagreed with the announcement. 

“They actually stood up, made their own announcement saying ‘we applaud those who continue wearing the mask so there was some tension on the plane,’” said Russell.

A federal judge in Florida struck down the government’s mask mandate aboard planes, trains, buses and all other types of public transportation Monday, and people in the Bay Area had mixed reactions. Sergio Quintana reports.

Retired commercial pilot Doug Rice said dropping the mask mandate is long overdue.

“The airlines have asked for this relief for sometime,” said Rice. “They’ve spent millions of dollars sanitizing their aircraft and putting new procedures in place.”

Procedures one Stanford infectious disease doctor says may not be enough. He is in favor of face protection while on planes.

"If you’re really cramped up next to other people, I’d keep masks on because it’s not worth getting infected, getting sick and out of work," said Dr. Abraar Karan.

The director of the SFMTA said the agency will continue to require masks, but added that according to its data, public transportation has not been a significant transmission point for COVID-19 because of air filtration onboard. 

“So, while we recommend that people wear masks, we don't believe it's actually necessary in order to insure that public transit is safe,” said Jefrey Tumlin of the SFMTA. 

Contact Us