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Biden administration fights to get federal travel mask mandate reinstated

The U.S. Justice Department is filing an appeal seeking to overturn a judge's order that voided the federal mask mandate on planes, trains and travel hubs, officials said Wednesday.

U.S. Justice Department filed notice of appeal in a Florida court Wednesday

Travellers wearing masks check in at the Philadelphia International Airport Tuesday. The U.S. Justice Department is seeking to appeal a federal judge's decision from earlier this week to strike down the national mask mandate. (Matt Rourke/The Associated Press)

The U.S. Justice Department is filing an appeal seeking to overturn a judge's order that voided the federal mask mandate on planes, trains and travel hubs, officials said Wednesday.

It came minutes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked the Justice Department to appeal the decision handed down by a federal judge in Florida earlier this week.

A notice of appeal was filed in federal court in Tampa.

The CDC said in a statement on Wednesday that it is its "continuing assessment that at this time an order requiring masking in the indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for the public health."

Federal judge struck down mandate Monday

A federal judge in Florida had struck down the national mask mandate for mass transit on Monday, leading airlines and airports to swiftly repeal their requirements that passengers wear face coverings. The Transportation Security Administration said Monday that it would it will no longer enforce the mask requirement.

WATCH | U.S. will no longer enforce masking onboard planes, other public transport:

Confusion after U.S. judge strikes down mask mandate for travel

3 months ago
Duration 2:03
The U.S. will no longer enforce masking onboard planes and other forms of public transportation after a federal judge in Florida struck down the mandate, causing confusion for some travellers because companies can still enforce their own mask rules.

The CDC had recently extended the mask mandate, which was set to expire Monday, until May 3 to allow more time to study the BA.2 Omicron subvariant, which is now responsible for the vast majority of U.S. cases. But the court ruling Monday had put that decision on hold.

The CDC said it will continue to monitor public health conditions to determine if a mandate would remain necessary. It said it believes the mandate is "a lawful order, well within CDC's legal authority to protect public health."

Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said Wednesday night that the department was filing the appeal "in light of today's assessment by the CDC that an order requiring masking in the transportation corridor remains necessary to protect the public health."

People without masks check in at New York City's La Guardia Airport Tuesday, one day after a federal judge's ruling that the 14-month-old directive was unlawful. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

After a winter surge fuelled by the Omicron variant that prompted record hospitalizations, the U.S. has seen a significant drop in virus spread in recent months, leading most states and cities to drop mask mandates.

But several Northeast cities have seen a rise in hospitalizations in recent weeks, leading Philadelphia to bring back its mask mandate.

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