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Louisville transit officials drop mask mandates following federal judge’s ruling

Photo by J. Tyler Franklin

Louisville’s public transit agencies are rolling back COVID-19 mask requirements following a federal judge’s ruling.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle overturned the federal government’s mask mandate on public transportation Monday, writing that it was “unlawful” and that the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had both exceeded its authority and broken rulemaking procedures.

Afterward, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said in a statement it would no longer enforce mask use on public transportation.

The Transit Authority of River City (TARC), which operates Louisville’s buses, announced Tuesday morning that it was lifting the mask requirement on its public transit vehicles and at its transportation hubs.

“At this time, masks are no longer required for TARC employees, customers, or visitors,” the statement said. “We will closely monitor any new regulations and make adjustments if needed.”

A TARC representative did not respond to WFPL News’s request for comment.

The Muhammad Ali International Airport also released a statement Tuesday, saying that masks are not mandatory on airport grounds anymore.

“In accordance with the TSA no longer operating its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment regarding the federal mask mandate for public transit, effectively immediately face masks are no longer required for any individual at the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport,” it said.

The release went on to note that masks may still be required by airlines and at other airports. However, by Tuesday afternoon, most major U.S. airlines confirmed they would be operating under mask-optional policies.

A representative for the Louisville Regional Airport Authority, which oversees the Muhammad Ali International Airport, declined to comment.

In January 2021, the CDC announced a federal mask mandate for public transit. The mandate was enforced for over a year, and was extended last week until May 3. The CDC cited concerns about rising COVID-19 cases in several states when it extended the public transit mask mandate a week ago.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.

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