This editorial appeared in The Dallas Morning News on March 29:
DALLAS (Tribune News Service) — In most places in the United States, we have almost fully returned to a pre-COVID-19 state of normalcy where people aren’t required to wear masks.
But in a place millions of Americans must use, the federal government still holds sway, and it isn’t letting go. It is past time to remove the masking requirement in airports and on airlines.
Americans who were told to “follow the science” are fairly asking now why the Biden administration is hanging on to an unscientific requirement in a space that it controls. In a letter dated March 23, the leaders of 11 major airlines, including American Airlines and Southwest, asked for the mask mandate in airports and on planes be lifted.
“Our industry has leaned into science at every turn. At the outset, we voluntarily implemented policies and procedures — mandating face coverings; requiring passenger health acknowledgements and contact tracing information; and enhancing cleaning protocols — to form a multi-layered approach to mitigate risk and prioritize the wellbeing of passengers and employees,” the letter reads.
But now, the administration is turning its back on the science that shows the vast majority of the country, 99%, does not need to wear masks indoors. For nearly two years, flight attendants and other front-line airline workers have faced enormous hostility from passengers as they have done their duty in enforcing mandates that no longer make sense. The highly filtered, forced air on airplanes is cleaner than most indoor air, despite the close quarters. Meanwhile, the best quality masks are now widely available for passengers who still desire to wear a mask.
So why is the federal government still forcing everyone who has to enter an airport and get on a plane to wear a mask? It isn’t about following the science; that much is clear. The failure to dial back these restrictions on individual choice stoke resentment and will make it that much harder to convince people to mask up the next time we need to — and that time will come. If the president and his advisers are serious about the facts, they will lift this mandate now, and let us edge that much closer to normal life.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency. ©2022 The Dallas Morning News.
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