Major airlines and RDU Airport ditch mask mandates—effective immediately!
Wheels up—masks down. “Finally!” exclaimed passengers as the news reverberated around the nation last night. Notching a major milestone in the social pandemic recovery, major airlines (and RDU Airport!) have ditched mask mandates—effective immediately! (That feeling you’re feeling is the sensation of fresh air on your face, the freedom to breathe freely…and the sound of erupting cheers and exuberant relief that could literally be heard from boarded planes and runways.)
In short, the CDC’s mask mandate, which was originally set to expire Monday, April 18, had been extended until May 3 to give more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant of COVID-19. But, on April 18, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle nullified the decision–saying “the federal mandate exceeds authority from U.S. health officials”—and ruled it is now up to each individual transit system to decide whether or not to require masks.
Concurrently, major airlines United, Delta and American ditched mask mandates Monday, among others. And, closer to home, after RDU Airport officials first said it would keep the mask mandate, less than an hour later, the airport announced in a tweet that mask requirements would be dropped effective immediately.
Beyond the friendly skies, Uber has also abandoned the mask req. for riders or drivers, and with it, abolished the no-front-seat policy. However, the website states that “to give drivers space, we ask that riders only use the front seat if it’s required because of the size of their group.” Uber also points out that this decision means masks are optional, so some may still choose to wear them. (Update: Tuesday evening, April 19, Lyft joined the ranks to make masks optional.)
So after two years of wearing masks on buses, taxis, planes, etc., you can finally take a deep breath (literally). Cheers to that!