WASHINGTON (AP/Nexstar) — The Justice Department is filing an appeal seeking to overturn a judge’s order that voided the federal mask mandate on planes and trains and in travel hubs, officials said Wednesday.
A federal judge in Florida had struck down the national mask mandate for mass transit on Monday, leading airlines and airports to swiftly repeal their requirements that passengers wear face coverings.
“I respect the [federal judge’s] ruling, but I follow the science,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on Wednesday.
But Tori Emerson Barnes with the U.S. Travel Association said getting rid of the mask mandate is good, because she said it will help revive the country’s travel industry, which is down 78% since the start of the pandemic.
“We think it is a hindrance to travel,” Barnes said.
The U.S. Travel Association and top U.S-based airlines are calling on the Biden administration to get rid of all the travel restrictions, including the pre-departure testing requirements for all inbound international travelers.
Barnes said the mandatory 24-hour COVID-19 test deters travelers from coming to the U.S.
“Right up until the day you go, you are uncertain about whether or not you’re going to be able to travel,” Barnes said.
She said the U.S. should be encouraging visitors — not making it harder for them to get here.
“When they come to the U.S., they stay longer, they spend more money, and if we are going to regrow the U.S. economy, we need those international travelers to come here,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.