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Masks no longer needed at SRQ, or on SCAT and MCAT buses

Masked passengers wait in line recently at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. As of...
Masked passengers wait in line recently at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. As of Tuesday, April 19, masks are no longer required.(WWSB)
Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 12:15 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Travelers on the Suncoast will see fewer people wearing masks, a quick check with local officials revealed Tuesday.

As a result of a federal judge’s decision in Tampa Monday, the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration announced it will no longer enforce masking at airports while the CDC reviews the court order.

“Masks are no longer required,” at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, Rick Piccolo, president and CEO of the Airport Authority, told ABC7 Tuesday morning.

Piccolo said individual airlines may have their own protocol in place. People planning on flying should check with their airline before their flights.

In Manatee County, masks are no longer required on the county’s MCAT buses. “Effective immediately, the TSA Mask Mandate is no longer in effect for MCAT’s buses, transfer stations, and facilities,” County spokesman Bill Logan told ABC7.

Sarasota County spokesman Drew Winchester told ABC7 that masks are now optional for rider and drivers, and that the now-outdated signage on buses and transfers stations is being removed.

In a 59-page lawsuit ruling issued Monday, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overstepped its authority in issuing the original health order on which the TSA directive was based.

She also said the order was fatally flawed because the CDC didn’t follow proper rulemaking procedures.

As a result, the TSA announced it will no longer enforce masking at airports while the CDC reviews the court order.

Piccolo has been publicly critical of mask mandates. In a February op-ed article published in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, he blamed a rise in unruly behavior at SRQ, in part, on the mask mandate.

“I believe that the federal mask mandate at the airport and on aircraft is contributing to the increase in unruly behavior,” he wrote. “Take all the normal anxiousness that existed prior to COVID, add COVID rule fatigue, lack of consistency on where masks are required, and how some leaders and influencers disregard the rules, throw in a little alcohol, and it creates a perfect storm at the airport and on the aircraft for the frustration factor to manifest itself.”

New rules for ride shares

Uber has dropped its mask mandate for riders and drivers, it was announced Tuesday while still acknowledging the CDC recommendations. " ... the CDC still recommends wearing a mask if you have certain personal risk factors and/or high transmission levels in your area,” the company announced on its website.

As of Tuesday morning, Lyft’s website still says riders and drivers must follow CDC guidance related to COVID-19, “including wearing a face mask that covers your mouth and nose (as required by federal order). A mask is required even if you’ve been vaccinated.”

-- Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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