federal mask mandate

Are Masks Required Anywhere in Chicago? From Airlines, to Public Transit, to Uber, Here's the Latest

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After Florida judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's travel mask mandate —which had been set to end May 3— earlier this week, confusion arose not only across state lines and agencies, but across Illinois as a whole.

That's partly because the state of Illinois was under an executive order from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, set to expire April 30, that required residents and visitors to wear masks on public transportation and in public transportation hubs.

But by Tuesday afternoon, the language in that executive order had already changed.

Pritzker said he will revise his executive order and no longer require face masks in Illinois while traveling on public transportation to "align with the ending of the enforcement of the federal mask mandate.

The change means masks will no longer be required on public transit, in public transit hubs or in airports in Illinois, though they could remain in place in some locations as "local municipalities retain the right to establish their own mitigations, including masking requirements on public transportation," Pritzker said.

Here's a breakdown of what all the travel mask changes look like, at the federal and local level.

O'Hare and Midway Airports: Masks Are Optional

According to the statement released Tuesday from the Chicago Department of Aviation, which administers all aspects Chicago O'Hare and Midway International Airports, masks will no longer be required at both airports, effective immediately.

“In order to align with recent changes in state and federal guidelines, the Chicago Department of Aviation will no longer require masks at O’Hare and Midway International Airports,” officials said.

Major US Airlines like American, United and Delta: Masks Are Optional

A number of major US airlines, including Chicago-based United Airlines, have said that the federal ruling from Mizelle means masks are no longer required on planes for domestic flights.

Here's a breakdown of 9 major US airlines, and what their new mask policies are.

Metra: Masks Are Optional

Metra said Tuesday that masks will now be optional on train lines, following the change in Illinois executive order re announcement from Pritzker that face coverings will no longer be required in Illinois while traveling on public transportation.

"Given Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s announcement, starting immediately, masks will be welcome but not required while traveling on Metra trains. They remain an important preventive measure against COVID-19. We are asking everyone to please be courteous and kind toward your fellow riders and understanding of their needs and choices. This has been a difficult period for everyone – let’s all do what we can to help each other on the way back," Metra said in a statement.

CTA and Pace: Masks Are Optional

Both the Chicago Transit Authority and Pace released statements Tuesday saying masks are now optional on train lines and buses, effective immediately.

"As a result of the Governor's announcement regarding executive order 2022-06, CTA will no longer require masks on public transit," CTA said in a statement.

The two agencies encouraged passengers to be courteous and respectful of other riders, still encouraging customers to wear a mask while on board.

"In response to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s announcement, masks will be welcome but not required on Pace buses or at facilities effective immediately," Pace said in a statement. "Let’s all do what we can to help each other on the way back."

Amtrak: Masks Are Optional

"While Amtrak passengers and employees are no longer required to wear masks while on board trains or in stations," Amtrak said in a statement Tuesday. "Masks are welcome and remain an important preventive measure against COVID-19. Anyone needing or choosing to wear one is encouraged to do so."

Uber and Lyft: Masks Are Optional

Both Uber and Lyft also released statements saying masks are now optional for riders and drivers.

"As of April 19, 2022, riders and drivers are not required to wear masks when using Uber," the company said in updated safety guidance on its website. "However, the CDC still recommends wearing a mask if you have certain personal risk factors and/or high transmission levels in your area."

Lyft offered a similar statement and added: "We know that everyone has different comfort levels, and anyone who wants to continue wearing a mask is encouraged to do so. As always, drivers or riders can decline to accept or cancel any ride they don't wish to take."

Are Masks Required Anywhere in Illinois?

According to Illinois' updated executive order, masks are no longer required indoors in public space, on public transportation or in public transportation hubs. The order states masks are still required in long-term care facilities, congregate facilities like homeless shelters and correctional facilities, and health care settings — but only as long as the CDC's continues to provide guidance in those areas.

In addition, local municipalities do have the right to establish their own COVID protocols. Some private businesses like restaurants and retail shops may also ask you to wear a mask before entering.

In Illinois hospitals, 566 patients are currently hospitalized because of COVID. Of those, 73 are in intensive care unit beds, according to IDPH data.

Even still, those with preexisting health conditions or are immunocompromised are being urged to continue wearing masks, and officials are asking residents to be courteous to those who choose to do so.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department said Tuesday it will not appeal the judge’s ruling that ended the nation’s federal mask mandate on public transit unless the CDC believes the requirement is still necessary.

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