Alaska Airlines: Masks now optional on flights

SEATTLE — Alaska Airlines has said that masks will be optional on their flights after a federal judge in Florida voided the national COVID-19-related mask mandate covering airlines and other public transportation.

The Seattle-based airline said in a statement Monday that because of the judicial decision, guests and employees would have the option to wear a mask while traveling in the U.S. and at work.

“While we are glad this means many of us get to see your smiling faces, we understand some might have mixed feelings,” the statement said.

“Please remember to be kind to one another and that wearing a mask while traveling is still an option.”

Alaska also said some passengers who were banned for violating the mask policy will remain banned.

“Based on our reports, we will have some guests whose behavior was particularly egregious who will remain banned, even after the mask policy is rescinded,” the statement said.

The decision Monday by U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, found that U.S. health officials had exceeded their authority in their response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The mandate, recently extended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, covered transportation from airplanes and trains to city subways and ride-sharing vehicles.

The White House said the court ruling means that for now the mask order “is not in effect at this time.”

The Justice Department declined to comment when asked if it would seek an emergency stay to block the judge’s order.

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