Philadelphia's indoor mask mandate, federal judge's ruling spark confusion

You might not need your mask to fly, but you'll need them inside Philadelphia International Airport.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2022
Indoor mask mandate, federal judge's ruling sparks confusion in Philly
Philadelphia residents are sorting through the confusion after a federal judge struck down a national mask mandate covering airlines and other public transportation.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia residents are sorting through the confusion after a federal judge struck down a national mask mandate covering airlines and other public transportation.

The judge's ruling came on the same day Philadelphia reinstated its indoor mask mandate.

The ruling appeared to free operators to make their own decisions about mask requirements, with the several major airlines - American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest and United - all announcing they would drop mandates.

But when you step into Philadelphia International Airport, masks are still required while inside all terminals.

As far as enforcing the mask policy at PHL -- that was the job of the TSA. But the TSA says it is no longer enforcing mask policies.

SEE ALSO: How Philadelphia-area mass transit, airlines are responding to latest mask ruling

A federal judge's decision to strike down the national mask mandate covering airlines and other public transportation Monday is having a ripple effect across the Tri-State area.

So Philadelphia airport officials say they're using signage, overhead announcements and asking their employees to remind people to put them on.

But they also say if employees need assistance, airport police are on duty in all terminals.

However, maskless travelers say no one confronted them on Tuesday.

"No one has approached me, no," said Art Sagnor of West Chester.

To make matters even more confusing -- masks are not required on SEPTA vehicles and in stations and concourses. But all SEPTA employees working inside SEPTA offices, districts and shops within Philadelphia must continue to wear masks until further notice, said the transit agency.

Philadelphia officials released this statement following the federal judge's mask ruling:

"We are evaluating the implications of this latest ruling and will provide further clarity around masking on transit in Philadelphia when available. This ruling does not impact the City's mask mandate for certain indoor places."

Tourists and residents have shared mixed opinions on whether masks should still be required.

"If they want to wear one, wear one. But if you don't, it's over," said Dan Duckworth of Wisconsin.

"I think people should make decisions on their own. I wear a mask because that's my own decision," said Susan Kaye of Texas who was wearing a mask.

"I'm not ready to take the mask off even though it's not on. I don't feel safe," said Herm Thomas of West Oak Lane.

SEE ALSO: Justice Department to appeal mask ruling for public transportation only if mandate still needed

A federal judge has struck down the mask mandate for planes and other forms of public transportation, but mask requirements on flights may still vary depending on your airline and destination.

The Justice Department said Tuesday it will not appeal the federal district judge's ruling unless the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes the requirement is still necessary.

Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said officials believe that the federal mask order was "a valid exercise of the authority Congress has given CDC to protect the public health." He said it was "an important authority the Department will continue to work to preserve."

In a new statement out Tuesday night, the CDC remained non-committal:

"CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in all indoor public transportation settings. We will continue to assess the need for a mask requirement in those settings, based on several factors, including the U.S. COVID-19 community levels, risk of circulating and novel variants, and trends in cases and disease severity."