Two Pennsylvania Airports, Two Different Masking Policies

Travelers wearing protective masks as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus move about the a terminal at the Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, Tuesday, April 19, 2022. A federal judge's decision to strike down a national mask mandate was met with cheers on some airplanes but also concern about whether it's really time to end one of the most visible vestiges of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

By Patrick Berkery

April 19, 2022

A federal judge said masks are no longer required on planes, but the return of Philadelphia’s indoor mask mandate means passengers still need to mask up in the airport terminal.

Before you fly the friendly skies at Philadelphia International Airport, you have to wear a mask in the terminal. Once you board the plane, you don’t.

Across the state at Pittsburgh International Airport, masks aren’t required in the terminal or on the plane.

This is what happens when a federal judge strikes down the Transportation Security Administration’s mask mandate extension just as Philadelphia becomes the first major city to reinstate its indoor mask mandate due to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

Citing an uptick in COVID-19 cases nationally, the TSA last week extended the national mask mandate on airplanes and mass transit through May 3.

But on Monday, a federal judge in Florida struck down the mandate, saying it exceeded the authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which the TSA relied on for guidance.

US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, also said the CDC failed to justify its recommendation and did not follow proper rule-making procedures that left it fatally flawed.

In the wake of her decision, airlines and airports, including Pittsburgh, swiftly began repealing their requirements that passengers wear face coverings.

Despite Mizelle’s ruling, the CDC continues to recommend masking on public transportation.

Philadelphia’s renewed indoor mask mandate returned Monday, about six weeks after it ended. Over the weekend, several local businesses and residents filed suit in Commonwealth Court, claiming the city lacked the authority to impose such a mandate. 

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.


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