Planes One Of Few Masking Battlefields Left As States Demand Biden Ax Rule

While masks have come off in cities and public schools around the country, some states are getting fed up with mask requirements that continue to be upheld on airplanes and other forms of public transportation.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, joined by Attorney General Ashley Moody, announced that Florida and 20 other states are suing President Joe Biden's administration with the aim of ending the universal mask mandate on airplanes.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced on March 10 that the federal mask mandates, which were set to expire on March 18, were being extended until April 18 per a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"If you travel at all," Moody said, "everywhere you go, people are frustrated and taking it out on the employees that are charged with enforcing this rule, that they have to wear a mask when it is an unfounded rule and order."

"It's turned the airlines into having to police this, and it's created a lot of unruly passenger situations because it's so frustrating for people," DeSantis said.

The 21 states involved in the lawsuit are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

DeSantis, who has been very public in his opposition to mask mandates, said that "in Florida, we've been very clear that we want people to be able to make their own decisions. We don't believe in 'Covid theater.'"

Moody said that the lawsuit "is meant to push back on yet again another unlawful power grab by the Biden administration."

Violence on airplanes has been increasing over the last several years, and data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) showed that there were 1,099 incidents involving unruly passengers in 2021.

This year, data from the FAA shows that, as of March 21, there have been 961 reports of unruly passengers, and 635 of those were related to facemasks.

While cases are falling, health experts still warn that COVID-19 is not yet "over" in the U.S., as the CDC announced on Tuesday that BA.2, a far more contagious Omicron subvarient, is now considered the dominant virus strain in the country.

Still, states are loosening restrictions and many are fighting to put an end to the last of the requirements and mandates.

In addition to the lawsuit from Florida and the other states, industry officials have been asking for the mandates to be lifted.

Om March 23, the trade association Airlines for America sent an open letter to Biden, asking for the federal mask mandate and the international predeparture test requirement to be dropped.

"It makes no sense that people are still required to wear masks on airplanes, yet are allowed to congregate in crowded restaurants, schools and at sporting events without masks, despite none of these venues having the protective air filtration system that aircraft do," the letter, which was signed by the leaders of 10 U.S. airlines, including American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest and United, read.

Newsweek reached out to the Biden administration for additional comment but did not hear back prior to publication.

Traveling after COVID-19
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that Florida and 20 other states were suing the Biden administration to challenge the federal mask mandate on airplanes and other modes of public transport. In this photo, a woman, masked because of the COVID-19 pandemic, prepares for take off in a plane at LaGuardia Airport on January 2, 2021 in Queens, New York. Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images