Mask mandate for travelers: Where masks are optional, still required in Washington

Masks are no longer required for most public transportation, but many transit and health officials are recommending masks still be worn.

A federal judge in Florida struck down the national mask mandate covering airlines and other public transportation Monday, and the Biden administration said the rule would not be enforced while federal agencies decide how to respond to the judge’s order.

The White House said the court ruling means that for now the mask order "is not in effect at this time."

The CDC had recently extended the mask mandate, which was set to expire Monday, until May 3 to allow more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant of the coronavirus that is now responsible for the vast majority of cases in the U.S.

Below is a list of local travel agencies and departments that are either making masks optional or are continuing to keep them required. 

Airplanes and Airports

Most major airlines announced that masks will be optional for passengers. Seattle-based Alaska Airlines was one of the first airlines to officially say that masks for passengers were optional on all flights.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport said TSA will no longer require face masks on public transportation and transportation hubs like SEA. 

Officials at Paine Field said masks will be optional at the airport and on commercial flights. 

Effective Monday, face masks will be optional but passengers at Spokane International Airport are encouraged to check with their airline for any specific requirements. 

"Additionally, prior to departure outbound travelers are encouraged to check with the State of your destination for any travel advisories as well. If you are planning a trip to an international destination, a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 is required for all passengers returning to the United States," said officials at Spokane International Airport


After initially saying that masks would continue to be required, King County Metro announced Tuesday that masks are now recommended - not required - on its buses.

"Guided by a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) statement on Monday night, King County Metro will no longer require masks on transit," Metro wrote in a blog post. "However, Public Health – Seattle & King County recommends that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time."

Whatcom Transportation Authority announced on Tuesday morning that masks will be optional. "We'll continue to provide them, and you'll still see some of our Transit Operators wearing them. But they are no longer required," officials said. 

Effective Tuesday, face coverings will no longer be required on transit and its facilities in the Puget Sound region. This includes Community Transit, Everett Transit, Kitsap Transit, Pierce Transit, Seattle Department of Transportation (Seattle Streetcar), Seattle Center Monorail and Sound Transit. Riders are welcome to continue wearing face coverings if they wish.


On Monday, the Washington State Ferries announced that masks are no longer required inside terminals or vessels. 


Effective immediately, Uber announced that its riders and drivers will no longer be required to wear a mask, the company announced on Tuesday. Uber has required all riders and drivers that use its platform to wear masks since May 18, 2020.

For Lyft customers and drivers, wearing a mask is now optional. The company said riders and drivers are no longer required to keep the front seat empty or the windows open. Also, riders and drivers should not use the service if they have COVID-19 or any related symptoms. 


Amtrak said passengers and employees are no longer required to sear masks on trains or in stations. Anyone who needs or chooses to wear one is encouraged to do so. 

Sound Transit announced face coverings will no longer be required. 

What's next: 

The DOJ and CDC said they will file an appeal on the federal decision. 

"The Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) disagree with the district court’s decision and will appeal, subject to CDC’s conclusion that the order remains necessary for public health. The Department continues to believe that the order requiring masking in the transportation corridor is a valid exercise of the authority Congress has given CDC to protect the public health. That is an important authority the Department will continue to work to preserve.

On April 13, 2022, before the district court’s decision, CDC explained that the order would remain in effect while it assessed current public health conditions, and that the Transportation Security Administration would extend its directive implementing the order until May 3 to facilitate CDC’s assessment.

If CDC concludes that a mandatory order remains necessary for the public’s health after that assessment, the Department of Justice will appeal the district court’s decision."

This is a developing story, and will be updated.

Stay connected with FOX 13 News on all platforms:
DOWNLOAD: FOX 13 News and Weather Apps
WATCH: FOX 13 News Live
SUBSCRIBE: FOX 13 on YouTube
DAILY BRIEF: Sign Up For Our Newsletter
FOLLOW: Facebook Twitter Instagram