CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – Passengers, elated today, hopping off their flights at Willard airport, mask-free. This comes after the federal mask mandate was lifted for public transportation.
Public transportation was one of the last places to have a mask mandate still in place after the latest COVID-19 wave subsided. But across the country, those mandates are being dropped.
U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle voided the national mandate on Monday, paving the way for airlines, train stations and bus stops to adopt mask-optional policies. State officials are also following suit; Governor Pritzker announced on Tuesday that he is ending Illinois’ state mandate for public transportation as well.
Masks are optional in transportation districts from Springfield, to Champaign and Danville, but not everyone took them off.
A lot of people are excited they don’t have to wear masks anymore, but it is a mix here across Central Illinois. Several people were wearing masks, and others weren’t.
Doniyell Ali, a CUMTD bus operator who started working before the pandemic, said it’s nice to have that option now.
“I have mixed feelings. It’s nice to be back to normal so that’s a plus,” Alis aid. “I mean, for women it’s superficial but to be able to wear lip gloss and makeup again, it’s wonderful. But then on the flip side, you know COVID’s still out there so we have to be careful how we interact so that part’s a little scary.”
That’s what many passengers are saying too. Being able to see other people’s entire faces feels normal again, but some are still apprehensive about the move.
“It was awesome. it was awesome to be able to breathe. It got hot, we didn’t have the masks on. It was great,” Sharon Mercer, who just flew from San Antonio to Champaign, said.
Mercer flew here to meet up with her friend, Deb Scott. Scott said she has an auto-immune disease. So, if she’s traveling, she still plans to wear a mask.
“That’s their business. To each it’s own. But I would still wear one,” Scott said.
Others said, regardless, they’re keeping the mask on.
“Well, I can say, if it helps save lives, then I’m all for it,” Eugene Benskin, who rides the bus often, said.
In light of Judge Mizelle’s ruling, the CDC updated its guidance to say that masks are not required, but still recommended in indoor public transportation settings.