The U.S. government's mask mandate for people on planes, trains, ferries and other modes of public transportation has been challenged in a lawsuit filed by 21 states on Tuesday.
The mask mandate exceeds the authority of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Tampa, Fla., by the states with Republican attorneys general.
The CDC's mask mandate took effect Feb. 1, 2021, and was recently extended until April 18, although the agency has said it is considering easing the rules and taking a more targeted approach.
Right now, the mandate requires "the wearing of masks by people on public transportation conveyances or on the premises of transportation hubs," according to the CDC.
"It is well past time to get rid of this unnecessary mandate and get back to normal life," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday while announcing the lawsuit, which seeks an immediate end to the mandate and asks for costs and attorneys' fees, the Associated Press reported.
Other states involved in the lawsuit are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.
The 21 states are not the only ones who want the mask mandate for public transportation lifted.
Last week, the chief executives of the country's largest airlines asked President Joe Biden in a letter to let federal mask mandates at airports and on planes lapse on April 18, along with COVID-19 testing requirements for international travelers.
And some public health officials agreed with the airlines' move.
The American Public Health Association is "supportive of this request," said its executive director Dr. Georges Benjamin. "We think that as you look at the trajectory of the disease in the United States, it's on a downward slope. There's no question that they can lift the mask mandate."
The CDC did not immediately respond to a phone call and email requesting comment on the lawsuit, the AP reported.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on masks and public transportation during the pandemic.
SOURCE: Associated Press