LOCAL NEWS

‘It feels great’: Utahns react to the dropped mask mandate for travel

Apr 19, 2022, 12:07 PM | Updated: Jun 20, 2022, 1:31 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s been less than 24 hours since a federal judge struck down the mask mandate for all public transportation, including airports.

That means you don’t have to wear a mask if you don’t want to.

Most people who spoke to KSL TV’s Tamara Vaifanua at the Salt Lake City International Airport agree with the ruling and are gladly ditching their masks, while health leaders questioned the timing of this decision.

Things look very different inside the Salt Lake City International Airport.

“If you look around at the airport, not many people are wearing masks,” said airport spokesperson Nancy Volmer.

As of Monday evening, face masks are now optional in airports and onboard aircraft.

“People will not be asked to wear masks. If they would like a mask, we certainly have masks that we’ll provide.”

Travelers we talked to say it’s long overdue.

“It feels great. Awesome absolutely incredible,” said Marlon Martinez.

Luis Perez says it’s a sign of things getting back to normal.

“I think when the number started coming down and more and more people got vaccinated, I think they should have gotten rid of it already sooner.”

The Utah Transit Authority announced this morning they’ll no longer require riders to wear masks on public transit.

“In response to the federal court ruling, #UTA is no longer requiring masks to be worn on our system. We continue our enhanced cleaning and disinfecting measures, and will keep providing masks on our buses and trains for riders who wish to use them.”

UTA drops mask requirement for trains and buses

Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious diseases physician with Intermountain Healthcare, was surprised the mask mandate was dropped at this point.

He said cases are rising on the East Coast due to the BA.2 COVID-19 subvariant and could spread to other parts of the country.

“People should rightfully be concerned especially those that are immunocompromised. Those that are elderly and those that haven’t been vaccinated,” Stenehjem said.

He says if travelers don’t feel comfortable making the change, there are ways to mitigate risks of infection – including getting vaccinated.

“You can still wear a mask that is still something you can choose to do,” he said.

“It’s an individual choice. You want to wear it fine,” said Martinez.

Passengers may want to check with airlines to see if there are travel updates – for example, United is requiring masks on some of their international flights.

These airlines are making masks optional after mandate struck down

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‘It feels great’: Utahns react to the dropped mask mandate for travel