San Antonio travelers rejoice after judge strikes down federal mask mandate on public transportation

Masks are no longer required on public transportation, effective immediately

San Antonio travelers weigh in after judge strikes down federal mask mandate on public transportation

SAN ANTONIO – Bustling travelers at the San Antonio International Airport were rejoicing Monday afternoon at the news of the removal of the federal mask mandate.

“Tired of wearing the mask. I think everybody’s tired of wearing a mask. We’re ready to move on. We’ve all been vaccinated. Don’t know why we have to wear it if we’re all vaccinated,” said Pam and William Bryant, a couple traveling to Florida.

“I think it’s about time that we remove the masks. We already have them removed in schools and stuff. And, I mean, I think it’s about time to do that. It’s easier to remove them now for planes,” said Melissa and Mayara Cressman as they traveled to Arizona.

In the following statement, TSA shared that it is no longer enforcing the mask mandate on public transportation:

“Due to today’s court ruling, effective immediately, TSA will no longer enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs. TSA will also rescind the new Security Directives that were scheduled to take effect tomorrow. CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time.”

As of Monday evening, several major airlines -- including American, Alaska, Delta, Southwest, and United -- say masks are optional on board.

San Antonio International Airport officials said masks wouldn’t be required, effective immediately. They issued the following statement:

“In accordance with today’s federal court ruling to overturn the mask mandate in airports on commercial aircraft and public transit and the Transportation Security Administration’s decision to rescind the mask directives. Effective immediately, masks are not required at the San Antonio International Airport. SAT will work with its stakeholders and partners to ensure the message is shared with travelers.”

On Monday, VIA issued a statement saying they would require masks through May 3, as recommended by the CDC, but reversed that decision on Tuesday — effective immediately.

“Beginning Tuesday, April 19, 2022, VIA Metropolitan Transit will make mask wearing optional for customers and employees, following a court order Monday that lifted a federal mask mandate, previously in place for all public transportation vehicles and facilities. Ridership on VIA continues to increase as people return to work and travel to entertainment and social events. While masks are no longer a requirement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend masks to protect against the spread of the COVID virus, particularly in areas where social distancing is not possible. Customers and employees are encouraged to make decisions that are in their best interests. For the continued health and safety of the community, persons who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who is positive for the virus should not take public transit.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Justice Department have declined to say if they will appeal the federal judge’s ruling.

About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.