Uber drops mask mandate

The announcement comes one day after a federal judge struck down Biden’s mask mandate for planes and public transportation

Uber drops mask mandate

Uber drivers and riders can breathe a sigh of relief.

The San Francisco-based company announced on Tuesday that face masks are now optional for both drivers and riders in the United States, CNN Business reported. The tech giant also informed workers and customers it will no longer require riders to sit in the back seats of vehicles, but asked riders to refrain from using the front seats unless they are traveling as part of a large group. Masks may still be required by law in some jurisdictions, Uber's email said, and in those areas the local regulations will apply.

“The CDC order requiring masks while using rideshare platforms such as Uber is no longer in effect, and we've revised our COVID-19 mask and front-seat policies accordingly,” Uber wrote in emails to users.

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The announcement comes one day after a federal judge struck down President Joe Biden’s mask mandate for airplanes and other forms of public transportation. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle for the Middle District of Florida called the policy “unlawful” and ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had overstepped its legal authority by imposing the mandate in February 2021, NBC News reported.

The CDC had renewed the travel mask mandate several times, most recently extending it through May 3. As a result of the ruling, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will no longer enforce the COVID-19 mask mandate on planes and other public transportation. However, the CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks on public transit, a Biden administration official said.

Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines and United Airlines all made similar announcements to Uber’s, based on the federal judge’s ruling.

For example, United Airlines said in a statement that, effective immediately, masks would no longer be required on domestic flights or certain international flights. “While this means that our employees are no longer required to wear a mask – and no longer have to enforce a mask requirement for most of the flying public – they will be able to wear masks if they choose to do so, as the CDC continues to strongly recommend wearing a mask on public transit,” United said.

Meanwhile, Amtrak said: “While Amtrak passengers and employees are no longer required to wear masks while on board trains or in stations, masks are welcome and remain an important preventive measure against Covid-19.  Anyone needing or choosing to wear one is encouraged to do so.”

Almost 75% of the 5,891 reported incidents of disruptive passengers on planes in 2021 were due to the mask mandate, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported. That’s the most violent year on record for airplanes.

The judge’s ruling comes only a couple weeks after a federal appeals court upheld Biden’s requirement that all federal employees be vaccinated against COVID-19. In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court and ordered dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the mandate. The ruling said that the federal judge didn’t have jurisdiction in the case and those challenging the requirement could have pursued administrative remedies under Civil Service law, The Associated Press reported.

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