A federal judge overturned the U.S. government mask mandate on airplanes, trains and other public transportation, dealing a blow to the Biden administration as fights continue nationwide over policies tied to the Covid-19 pandemic.
U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa, Florida, vacated the mask requirement nationwide and directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reverse the policy put in place in February 2021. The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the Health Freedom Defense Fund.
Mizelle ruled that the CDC had incorrectly described the mask mandate as a form of “sanitation” to justify its authority in the matter.
The judge also found that the CDC had gone too far by issuing a regulation that “acts on individuals directly” rather than just their “property interests.”
The ruling comes as states across the U.S. have eased restrictions following an overall drop in case numbers from a January peak caused by the omicron variant of the coronavirus. Almost 1 million Americans have died of Covid in the past two years, and hundreds more continue to die every day.