The Justice Department will not, however, ask the court to stay the decision, meaning passengers will be able to continue traveling maskless while the decision is litigated.
The local transit agencies’ move comes in light of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s decision today to change the state’s policy after a Florida judge struck down the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s requirement that passengers wear masks on public transportation.
“Given Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s announcement, starting immediately, masks will be welcome but not required while traveling on Metra trains. They remain an important preventive measure against COVID-19,” Metra said. “We are asking everyone to please be courteous and kind toward your fellow riders and understanding of their needs and choices.”
CTA cautioned that “while the city continues to see low levels of transmission of COVID-19, customers and employees who wish to continue wearing masks are encouraged to do so.”
The Chicago Department of Aviation said today it also will no longer require masks at O’Hare and Midway airports, although airlines already had dropped their mask requirements.
United, American and Southwest airlines all dropped mask requirements a day ago as well, following the lead of the TSA.
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The South Shore Line, which operates commuter trains between Chicago and South Bend, Ind., and Amtrak had also dropped their respective rules ahead of the state’s change.
“Local municipalities retain the right to establish their own mitigations, including masking requirements on public transportation,” according to the state’s release.
“I’m proud of the work our state has done to fight COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in the news release. “I continue to urge Illinoisans to follow CDC guidelines and, most importantly, get vaccinated to protect yourself and others.”
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa, Fla., vacated the mask requirement nationwide and directed the CDC to reverse the policy put in place in February 2021. The ruling was handed down in a lawsuit filed last year by the Health Freedom Defense Fund, a nonprofit group that says it focuses on “bodily autonomy” as a human right.
“Today’s court decision means CDC’s public transportation masking order is not in effect at this time,” an administration official said in a statement. “Therefore, TSA will not enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs at this time.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called the judge’s ruling “a disappointing decision” and said “we’re continuing to recommend that people wear masks” while the administration considers its legal options.