Port Authority Continues Forced Masking at New York Airports

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: A New York Army National Guard soldier walks around John F. Kennedy Airport on April 19, 2022 in New York City. On Monday, a federal judge in Florida struck down the mask mandate for airports and other methods of public transportation as a new …
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The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will continue to embrace forced masking at transportation hubs in New York, it announced on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the first full day of President Biden’s federal mask mandate being nixed, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced that it would “continue to follow the guidance of the New York and New Jersey public health authorities with respect to mask mandates at its public transportation facilities.”

In other words, it is not deferring to United States District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle’s ruling, in which she deemed Biden’s mask mandate illegal.

The Trump-appointed judge wrote in part:

It is indisputable that the public has a strong interest in combating the spread of Covid-19. In pursuit of that end, the CDC issued the mask mandate. But the mandate exceeded the CDC statutory authority, improperly invoked the good cause exception to notice and comment rulemaking, and failed to adequately explain its decisions.

Because our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in the pursuit of desirable ends, the court declares unlawful and vacates the mask mandate.

As a result, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is not enforcing Biden’s directive, and several airlines swiftly moved to make masks optional. However, as a result of the Port Authority’s position, the mask mandate is still being enforced at both LaGuardia Airport and JFK International Airport.

“Per current New York public health guidance, the mask mandate remains in effect for the following New York facilities,” the Port Authority wrote. These facilities include the Port Authority Bus Terminal, George Washington Bridge Bus Station, World Trade Center Oculus Transportation Hub, and  the New York Stewart International Airport. [Emphasis original]

“Per newly issued New Jersey public health guidance, the mask mandate has been lifted for the following New Jersey facilities, but masks are now optional and welcome for all who choose to wear them,” they continued, pointing to the Newark Liberty International Airport and the Teterboro Airport. [Emphasis original]

This is not the only instance of the public receiving mixed messaging, as the Chicago O’Hare Airport also suggested that it will continue to embrace forced masking.

On Tuesday, the Biden administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it will appeal the mask ruling “if the CDC concludes that a mandatory order remains necessary for the public’s health” after its assessment:

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