Masks and flying: Everything you need to know about new US rules

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(CNN) – Air travelers in the U.S. are removing their Covid-19 face masks The federal judge handed down the verdict That the government’s mask order on commercial aircraft was illegal.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously insisted that the mask rules remain in place until May 3, but a Florida judge on Monday rejected that directive.

Airlines have already begun to ease the requirements for masks but not without some initial confusion.

So what are the new rules? Do they apply for international travel? How safe is it to fly a maskless? Here are the answers to some of the main questions.

What are the new rules for flying with a mask in the US?

Most major airlines in the United States have made it an option to wear a mask following a recent legal ruling, although some have said that in some places it may be necessary to cover the face when flying or arriving.

Following the new ruling, the government’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says it will not apply masks worn on public transport or hubs.

Airlines have applied their own mask rules in the past, before the order was implemented, but most have now abolished this requirement.

Which airlines have made masks optional?

Main US Airlines Announced Monday that masks are now optional on their aircraft.

Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Allegiant Air, Hawaiian Airlines And Sun Country Airlines Everyone needs to cover their faces.

This means that both passengers and crew members do not currently have to wear these on domestic flights for these carriers.

Will the rules change again?

Air travelers in the US no longer need to wear masks.

Air travelers in the US no longer need to wear masks.

Brittany Murray / Media News Group / Long Beach Press-Telegram / Getty Images

Uncertain. The removal of the order was an accidental development after US District Judge Catherine Kimball Michelle overturned the order.

An official from the Biden administration later confirmed that the order would not be enforced while the verdict was being reviewed. It was not immediately clear how long the review would last and what the outcome would be.

“Agencies are reviewing the decision and evaluating possible next steps,” the Biden administration official said Monday night. “Meanwhile, today’s court decision means that the CDC’s public transport masking order is not in effect at this time.”

Mask requirements for US travelers were initially implemented by major airlines in the spring of 2020, before the federal mandate for airplanes and other public transport methods in February 2021.

Can I still wear a mask if I want to?

Yes. Passengers can still wear a mask on board aircraft if they choose to do so. However, it is not necessary to wear a mask under federal law when the judgment is being reviewed.

I am medically sensitive, what should I do?

CNN Medical Analyst Dr. According to Lena Wayne, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, “high-quality masks” such as N95, KN95 or KF94 remain very common. An important tool when it comes to reducing the risk of infection, especially indoors, in public places.

Wayne told CNN Health last month, “My recommendation is that people with immunosuppression should wear masks when they are indoors around unfamiliar vaccination conditions.”

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“Others should decide based on the importance of avoiding the Covid-19 deal and being unmasked.”

Do I still need to wear a mask for international flights?

This is likely to depend on the airline and / or the destination you are traveling to.

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United Airlines issued a statement Monday announcing that masks would no longer be required on “international flights of choice”, while American Airlines noted that “masks may be required from certain international destinations” depending on the country’s needs.

They may be needed when landing at international destinations, even if not on board. It is advisable to check with the airlines before taking off.

What is the medical advice on wearing a mask?

Public health experts recommend that people wear masks that provide the most effective level of protection, especially N95s.

Unlike facial coatings, N95s are capable of filtering large drops as well as particles filled with small aerosols or possibly aerobic viruses if infected people are around, according to Erin Bromez, an associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Approved by N95 Respirators NIOSH Can filter up to 95% of airborne particles if they are fitted properly.

While KN95s and KF94s are also considered to provide a high level of protection, the main difference is that US N95s are tested, certified and regulated by public health professionals.

Manufacturers in China test KN95, although they do not meet U.S. regulatory standards and the country’s government has no regulatory body accrediting them, according to Aaron Collins, a professor at the University of Mercer’s School of Engineering Emeritus and a mechanical engineer in aerosol science. Meanwhile, KF94s are regulated by the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

“If they were to be standardized and certified by a proper board like NIOSH in their country, they would all do the same thing,” says Bromej.

What is the risk of catching covid while flying?

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has previously stated that the risk of infecting Covid-19 in flight is very low, even when factoring in the Omicron variant, which “appears to be more transmissible in all environments than other types.”

However, it is worth noting that in modern jet aircraft, along with the air quality on board, wearing a mandatory mask was considered a causal factor for this, which is regularly refreshed, and the fact that passengers are all facing in the same direction. On a plane.

Last month, Lance Marre, an infectious disease transmission specialist through Aerosols, told CNN by email that leaving the mask order meant “as long as the cases are low.”

“The infected person is less likely to be on the plane, and we know the plane has excellent ventilation and filtration, which helps reduce the risk of transmission in the plane,” said Professor Marr of Virginia Tech. .

Dr. of CNN. Sanjay Gupta says most airplanes are safe because of the fast air exchange, but the real risk of air travel is passing through terminals and other enclosed spaces.

CNN has approached IATA to determine if it still considers the risk “too low” if people on board do not wear face masks.

CNN’s Elizabeth Wolf, Travis Caldwell and Marnie Hunter also contributed to the story.

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