Biden on whether people should mask on planes: ‘That’s up to them’

President Biden on Tuesday said whether to wear a mask on an airplane should be an individual choice after a federal judge blocked a requirement for passengers on public transportation to be masked.

“Should people continue to wear masks on planes?” a reporter asked Biden during a trip to New Hampshire to promote infrastructure projects.

“That’s up to them,” the president responded.

Asked if the Department of Justice should appeal the ruling that invalidated the mask requirement on plains, trains and buses, Biden said he had not spoken to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the ruling.

Biden’s comments marked a shift from the White House messaging in the immediate wake of the ruling. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday said the administration still recommended individuals wear masks on public transit.

“We’re continuing to recommend people wear masks,” Psaki said, pointing to existing CDC guidance.

Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, an appointee of former President Trump, wrote in her opinion on Monday that the CDC exceeded its statutory authority with the order, rendering the requirement invalid.

The CDC had recently extended the order for 15 days, through May 3, after some discussion of whether to end it. But the agency decided more time was needed to monitor an uptick in cases from the BA.2 subvariant of omicron.

The Department of Justice has not appealed the decision, though Psaki said it could take a couple days before the agency decides how to proceed.

Tags CDC Jen Psaki Joe Biden mask mandate travel mask mandate

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