SAN FRANCISCO - Traveling is about to look a lot different. A Federal judge voided a national mask mandate on airplanes and mass transit. Now, airports and airlines can make their own decisions about face coverings.
"I’m ready to take mine off so whenever they tell me I can I will," said Janine Giancana, who works as a traveling nurse.
Some major carriers have lifted their mask requirements, including Alaska Air, Delta, United, and Southwest.
At Mineta San Jose International Airport and the Oakland International Airport, masks are now optional.
Oakland Airport spokesperson Kaley Skantz released this statement: "Effective immediately, following the updated TSA guidance, Oakland International Airport will no longer require airport employees or patrons to wear a face mask at its facility. The CDC continues to recommend that individuals wear masks in indoor transportation settings. We recognize that travelers and employees will have varied opinions about this sudden change, and we ask that people respect the individual decision to wear a face mask or not. Our commitment to the health, safety, and security of everyone at O-A-K remains our top priority. We look forward to seeing many faces, masked or not, at O-A-K."
SFO lifted its mask mandate on Tuesday morning.
Ron Sparacino, from Martinez was one of the few at the Oakland Airport without a mask. "I am in favor of the mandate being stricken," he said. "I think everybody has been ready for it for a long time. I think it’s a good thing."
Others we talked to said the pandemic isn’t over and worry about another surge. Traveler Sonia Linehan said, "I would rather keep it on because there’s all kinds of different influenza and contagions and I’m not sure it’s over."
Renee Eshun from Oakland said, "I feel safer with masks on with different variants coming and a lot of germs are on the plane anyway."
Just last week, the CDC announced its mask order would stay in effect an extra 15 days, until May 3rd. This was to take more time to study the BA.2 variant.
A judge ruled the CDC failed to justify its decision. Dr. Robert Wachter at UCSF said the big question should be if a judge should make this sort of decision.
"If the precedent here is the CDC and other federal agencies cannot enact mandates, and can’t tell people they need to do certain things during a public health crisis, I think that’s an enormously dangerous precedent," said Wachter.