John Wayne Airport Mask Rules: Latest Policies For Travelers

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Main News Photo

(Patch) 

A federal judge struck down the federal travel mask mandate Monday, meaning face coverings to protect against COVID-19 are no longer required on planes, trains, and, in most cases, subways and buses.

At John Wayne Airport in Orange County, the mask mandate was dropped in alignment with the judge's ruling.

"Guests and employees have the option to wear a mask during travel or while working. Travelers are advised to check with their airline and destination airport for local guidelines," airport officials said in a statement.

On April 18, Florida federal Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle said in the 59-page decision striking down the travel mask mandate that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both exceeded its legal authority and failed to go through proper channels to put the rule in place.

As a result, the CDC said its order requiring masks on public transportation "is no longer in effect" and the agency will not enforce it. However, the CDC said it "continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time."

The CDC first issued an order mandating masks on public conveyances in January 2021, saying "traveling on public transportation increases a person's risk of getting and spreading COVID-19."

Overnight, the scene at Golden State airports and others across the country changed dramatically.

Mask regulations for California's largest airports as of April 19:

  • LAX - Masks not required.
  • SFO - Masks not required.
  • San Diego Airport - Masks not required.
  • John Wayne Airport - Masks not required.
  • Oakland Int'l Airport -Masks not required.
  • Hollywood-Burbank Airport - Masks not required.

Effective Tuesday, the Transportation Security Administration was no longer requiring masks on planes or in the nation's airports. One by one, most of the nation's major airlines dropped mask requirements, making the face coverings optional for employees and passengers.

The TSA said in its statement that the CDC continues to recommend face coverings to protect against the coronavirus. Amtrak issued a stronger statement, saying that although they are no longer required of passengers and employees, "masks are welcome and remain an important preventive measure against COVID-19."

The Florida decision also affects ride-hailing companies. Uber no longer requires masks as of Tuesday and Lyft soon followed suit, saying masks are now optional for riders and drivers.

Still, some state and local transit agencies could keep their mask requirements. Last week, the CDC had extended the now-suspended mask rule to study the worrisome BA.2. subvariant of the coronavirus, which is responsible for most of the COVID-19 cases around the country.

At Oakland International Airport, a mask mandate for employees and travelers was lifted.

"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," a statement from the airport said, according to Kron4. "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."

San Francisco International Airport — the second largest airport in California — decided to drop its mask mandate. The airport urged travelers to "respect each individual's decision regarding mask usage."

At San Jose International Airport, the mask mandate was dropped on Monday but passengers are still encouraged to wear face coverings.

"Please consult with your airline and the public health authorities at your destination prior to traveling," the airport said on its website.

In Los Angeles County, some agencies decided to hold onto masking requirements while others dropped mandates. The county has previously been the state's coronavirus epicenter, consistently reporting the highest number of cases throughout various surges.

Los Angeles International Airport — the largest airport in California — decided to drop its mask mandate, but passengers are still encouraged to wear masks, according to multiple reports.

The Hollywood-Burbank Airport also dropped its requirement.

But LA transit agency Metro decided Tuesday to hold onto a mask mandate for its buses and trains. Its website announced "per federal law face masks are still required to ride on all buses and trains."

Metrolink officials, however, opted to drop the mandate, making it only a recommendation.

Despite the judge's ruling, the Riverside Transit Agency, like Los Angeles, will keep mask requirements in place.

"Things are changing quickly, and this judge's ruling is really new," RTA spokesman Brad Weaver told City News Service. "At this point, we are going to see what direction we get on the legal side, or further direction from the FTA."

In the Bay Area, San Francisco's Muni system said a mask order remains in effect until further notice from the Federal Transit Administration.

A spokesperson from Sacramento International Airport told KCRA that the airport will stop requiring face masks of passengers and staff.

Philadelphia extended its mask mandate, the first city to do so in response, and on Monday, a group of local residents and businesses filed a lawsuit to throw out the mask mandate.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City said Monday it would keep its mask mandate in place on the bus, subway and rail systems it oversees, The New York Times reported.

The case before Mizelle, appointed to the federal bench by now-former President Donald Trump in November 2020 after he lost the presidential election, was filed in July 2021 by two plaintiffs and the Health Freedom Defense Fund.

"The court concludes that the mask mandate exceeds the CDC's statutory authority and violates the procedures required for agency rulemaking under the APA," the judge wrote.

It's unclear if the Biden administration will appeal the decision. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday that Mizelle's decision was "disappointing," and the administration's response is still under review and the "Department of Justice would make any determination about litigation."

Category: Travel and Tourism, JWA, SNA, Orange County