Bay Area transit agencies drop mask mandate after court ruling

Florida judge rules against CDC

Bay Area transit agencies lifted mask restrictions Wednesday after a federal judge in Florida overturned the mandates.

BART dropped the requirements but did not embrace the changes, with board President Rebecca Saltzman saying the agency will consider a mandate of its own when it meets April 28.

Riders seemed to largely ignore the change, with most still wearing facial coverings. During the Wednesday evening commute on BART, 90-95% of BART riders still had on their masks.

However, a week of mask-free riding may be too difficult to reverse, as some commuters could embrace the change after two pandemic years.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of Florida ruled Tuesday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not authorized to enforce the travel and transit mask mandate.

The federal government appealed on Wednesday after the CDC determined that masking was essential for protecting the public from the spread of COVID-19

Many airlines, Uber and Lyft quickly dropped the masking requirement, as did most Bay Area transit agencies, including Muni, AC Transit, Caltrain and the Valley Transportation Authority in Santa Clara County.

In a statement to reassure passengers, BART noted it has Merv 14 air filters on all train cars, both new and old.

The government’s decision to appeal will not change the status unless a higher court stays the order. The appeal carries risks for the CDC. If the government loses, the decision could call into question the CDC’s authority. If the government wins, there may be a public backlash.

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