OUR VIEW: End of masks on planes, trains, buses feels like another milestone as pandemic wanes

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, April 20, 2022

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It’s funny that in reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic that we often look back on the big moments when things felt normal again.

Sure, we’re sure there are some hardheaded people out there that didn’t wear a mask throughout the entire pandemic, but most of us did for own old health or to follow local guidance or federal law. We all probably remember the first time we felt comfortable going somewhere without a mask or doing something in our normal routine.

Things have really changed. For months and months, the majority of our community has been living life as if the pandemic was over. Us included. Numbers are down. Life is pretty much back to normal.

But there was one major milestone left untouched, not scratched off going into this week. If you got on an airplane, train or bus, you still had to put a mask on.

That changed Monday when a federal judge struck down that mandate.

Videos made their way across social media Monday as passengers happily threw their mask away in-flight, celebrating the end of the mandate. It’s been a long time coming. With the vaccine out there and effective, people have the ability to protect themselves against COVID-19. They are also still welcome to wear a mask, so we felt dropping the mandate was overdue.

If we can make 100,000 people into a football stadium (some indoors) without masks, surely we can get on a plane or a bus without one.

There are some caveats. Airlines can still make their own individual decisions regarding mask requirements and passengers will still need to meet local guidelines and ordinances, though most major airlines dropped the requirement within hours. For instance, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Connecticut still require masks for mass transit.

We encourage you to get vaccinated if you’re not. If you’re traveling, take precautions that you feel are best for your family. Wear a mask if you feel you should. People have every right to do so, and we could even argue that it’s still the best choice.

If cases increase, the mandate might return. If it does, follow the new mandate.

But for now, this feels like another major milestone that has been crossed off.

Two years of flying with a mask required is now over, and that truly feels like a moment to celebrate as so many did on planes Monday.

We’re glad to see this day.