However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe the requirement is still necessary.
Anthony Coley, a Justice Department spokesperson, stated that officials believed the federal mask order was a valid exercise of Congress' authority to protect public health. He made the statement one day after a Florida judge canceled the mandate.
Coley stated that the CDC had indicated it would continue to evaluate public health conditions. If the agency decided that a mandate was required for public health, then the Justice Department would file an appel.
Officials said that the agency had not made any determination as of Tuesday.
Federal judge's decision dissolved the last vestige of federal pandemic regulations and created a mix of locally-created rules that reflect the country's ongoing divisions about how to combat the virus.
Major airports and airlines in cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and Los Angeles quickly adopted a mask-optional policy. Los Angeles County has dropped mass transit mandates and a New Jersey train conductor told commuters to remove their masks Tuesday.
However, travelers still need to wear masks in New York City, Chicago, and Connecticut.
Lyft and Uber, ride-sharing companies, announced Tuesday on their websites that masks are now optional for riding or driving.
Walt Disney World, Florida announced Tuesday that it would no longer require masks for its monorail, sky gondola and buses.
Many people found the news very welcome. A Delta Air Lines flight passenger captured cheering and applauding when they took off their masks after hearing that they were no longer required. One man smiled and twisted his mask around his finger.
Brooke Tansley, a TV producer and former Broadway performer was furious after she boarded a flight with her 4-year old and 8-month-old child. However, the mask mandate ended mid-flight.
She tweeted, "Very angry about this," noting that her baby was too young for a mask.
When asked Tuesday by Joe Biden if Americans should wear masks on planes, President Joe Biden was all in on flexibility.
Biden stated, "That's up for them," during a visit in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The White House, however, continues to request that face covers be worn by those who travel with him on Air Force One. This is based on CDC guidance.
Transit workers in Portland, Oregon immediately started to take down signs and announcements stating that "mask required" was removed. However, they stated it would likely take several working days to get rid of everything.
Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Washington, D.C., Kansas City, Missouri, Anchorage, Juneau, and Washington, D.C. joined forces to make masking optional for mass transit.
Some Union Station passengers in Chicago complained that the rules were confusing. Amtrak has dropped the requirement. Chicago Transit Authority and Metra (regional commuter rail service) kept the requirement initially but removed it Tuesday night.
Erik Abderhalden said that it was like a patchwork of rules and enforcements of them as he waited to board a Metra train for his suburban Naperville home. He wore a mask. "It's almost like Swiss cheese, there's no uniformity and it seems very laissez-faire," he said.
Cooper Klinges, a Subway rider, was happy that New York City's transit system didn't follow the trend. He planned to keep his mask requirement. He said that he cancelled a flight earlier in the year because of concerns about the virus as he waited for his train at Brooklyn station.
Klinges, a teacher, stated that "I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet" citing concerns over the BA.2 subvariant of coronavirus. It is still there. It is still here.
To allow for more time to study subvariant (which is responsible for most U.S. cases), the CDC recently extended the mask mandate that was due to expire Monday to May 3. The court decision puts this decision on hold.
After an omicron variant-fueled winter surge that saw record hospitalizations, the U.S. has seen significant decline in virus spread in recent months. This led many states and cities to abandon mask mandates.
However, several Northeast cities have seen an increase in hospitalizations over the past weeks. This has prompted Philadelphia to reintroduce its mask mandate.