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COVID-19: USA Mask mandate voided by Florida Judge. Masks on USA planes now voluntary

COVID-19: USA Mask mandate voided by Florida Judge. Masks on USA planes now voluntary

In a single Federal judge decision made in Florida by US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, an appointee of Donald Trump.

Previously, a mask mandate applied to all forms of public transportation including airplanes, trains, taxis, ride-share vehicles, and all transit hubs like train and bus stations and airports.

The Centre for Diseases Control still recommends that travellers and staff wear a mask on public transport, including aeroplanes.

American airlines including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines seem to be embracing the dropping of the mandate. Interestingly the largest union of Airline cabin crew members, The Association of Flight Attendants – has remained neutral on the mandate. Apparently, their membership is divided on the matter. Undeniably, this dropping of the mandate will increase rates of transmission on all forms of public transport. Maybe their attitude will change once their members are adversely affected.

World Health Organization head Tedros Ghebreyesus last week said that while COVID-19 cases are on the decline worldwide, people should “continue wearing masks — especially in crowded, indoor spaces”.

2PAXfly Takeout

This is another timely reminder to wear your seatbelt when seated. Holding you close to your seat will protect you from the sort of injuries sustained on this flight, when unsecured passengers flew to the ceiling of the aircraft, and then came crashing down once the ‘drop’ ceased.

The hope will be that this is an anomaly – a ‘freak accident’ in casual parlance. If it is a systemic error either mechanical or electronic, then this is a larger concern for the airlines that fly Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft. Let’s hope it isn’t. If it is, it will pile on the woes to Boeing’s existing stack.

While understanding the airlines’ claims about planes’ air filtration systems, their view overlooks the risks in stationary planes before the filtration system is turned on, and in airports and similar places of mass human interaction.

This decision is not medically based, but legally, financially and politically lobbied for by the USA Airline industry.

The same industry pressures exist here in Australia, with Alan Joyce calling for the abolition of the mask mandate here before the end of 2022.

I don’t love wearing a mask on a plane or in an airport, however, if me wearing a mask is going to stop me or someone else from getting or passing on the virus, then I will continue to wear a mask in these high-risk environments – especially in airports.

Remember, despite our high vaccination rates in Australia, the same is not true of some countries we can now visit. Also remember that 1 in 6 or about 18% of Australians have a disability, which puts them into an ‘at risk’ category along with being over 70 or being obese, having diabetes, impaired lung function or being immunocompromised. Let’s just say, there are a lot of at-risk people you might come into contact with on planes, in airports and on any other type of public transport. Mandate or not, you should still wear a mask.

I am vacating my soapbox now.

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