One day after a judge voided a federal mask mandate for travel and public transportation, Illinois' governor announced he will remove travel masking requirements from a statewide mandate as well.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he will revise his executive order to lift travel mask requirements across the state and "align with the ending of the enforcement of the federal mask mandate on public transportation."
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.
“I’m proud of the work our state has done to fight COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable,” Pritzker said in a statement. “I continue to urge Illinoisans to follow CDC guidelines and, most importantly, get vaccinated to protect yourself and others.”
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
Illinois health officials said they were closely monitoring COVID metrics across the state and urged vaccinations and booster shots, particularly for those at increased risk.
Since the announcement, several Chicago and Illinois public transport agencies provided further guidance into masking expectations for riders.
According to the statement from the Chicago Department of Aviation, masks will no longer be required at O’Hare and Midway 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.
Officials are still encouraging passengers to wear masks in airports, and to extend courtesy to those who decide to do so.
“Please be kind and courteous to fellow passengers as we continue to welcome folks back to Chicago’s airports,” the statement read.
A number of airlines, including United Airlines, which is based out of Chicago, have said that the ruling means masks are no longer required on domestic flights.
Metra said Tuesday afternoon masks would no longer be required, following the governor's announcement.
"Given Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s announcement, starting immediately, masks will be welcome but not required while traveling on Metra trains," the rail agency said in a statement. "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."
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."
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."
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle voided the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's national mask mandate on airplanes and mass public transit. In a 59-page ruling, the Florida judge said the CDC failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rulemaking procedures that left it fatally flawed.
The CDC had recently extended a federal mask mandate on public transit and in public transportation hubs until May 3, to allow more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant of the coronavirus now responsible for the vast majority of cases in the U.S.