Flyers, Subway Riders Shed Masks: ‘Feel Free To Burn Them’

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A pilot declared over the loudspeaker on a cross-country Delta Air Lines flight that passengers were no longer required to wear masks, eliciting cheers from the cabin and prompting some on board to immediately toss their face coverings onto their seats.

“Feel free to burn them at will,” a train conductor told New Jersey commuters Tuesday. Other passengers were confused, startled and angered by the abrupt change, however, especially those who booked trips in the belief that their unvaccinated children would be traveling in a masked environment.

A federal judge’s decision Monday to throw out a mask requirement on public transportation did away with the last major vestige of federal pandemic rules and led to a mishmash of new locally created rules that reflected the nation’s ongoing division over how to battle the virus.

Major airlines and airports in places like Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City quickly switched to a mask-optional policy. New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Connecticut continued to require them on mass transit. But a host of other cities ditched their mandates, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continued to recommend masking on transportation.

Brooke Tansley, a television producer and former Broadway performer, boarded a flight with her 4-year-old and 8-month-old baby— neither old enough to be vaccinated — only to learn the mask mandate had ended mid-flight.

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