NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Amid rulings in federal court challenging a mask mandate for public transportation, Nashville International Airport officials said they will no longer require masks.
The airport's decision comes as U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle wrote in her ruling that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention improperly failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rulemaking. She ultimately said the mandate was voided. The mask mandate was recently extended by President Joe Biden’s administration until May 3.
"The leadership at Nashville International Airport has monitored the developments of this morning’s federal court ruling overturning face mask requirements for travelers. BNA understands that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is not currently appealing the court’s ruling, therefore it is BNA’s understanding that there is no longer a mask requirement," airport officials said. "However, travelers are encouraged to check with their respective carrier regarding the airline’s specific requirements."
As word of the change spread throughout the terminal during a busy travel day, reactions ranged from surprise, to elation to indifference.
"We’re so happy to hear the mask mandate is lifted," said Mike Hirko, a traveler at BNA. "It is ridiculous. We’re tired of it."
"I feel like I’m doing something wrong," laughed Nereida Garcia, a traveler at BNA. "but I’m glad I am able to breathe comfortably."
BNA still provides free masks for travelers, and some said they planned to continue wearing a mask regardless of the mandate. Others were happy to leave their masks at home.
"It’s a preventive measure," said Bob Mounter, a traveler at BNA. "If they tell me I don’t have to wear seat belts anymore, I will still wear my seat belt."
"For 2 years we all were under this rule that was ridiculous, unscientific and unproven" said Sarah Rosien, a traveler at BNA. "It should have been personal choice from the beginning."
TSA announced later in the evening that the effect on masking would happen immediately.
"TSA will no longer enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs," TSA officials said in a statement. "TSA will also rescind the new Security Directives that were scheduled to take effect tomorrow. CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time."
BNA officials originally encouraged travelers to check with individual airlines about masking policies on planes. However, Delta, American, United, Southwest and Alaska Airlines all announced masks are now optional on their planes.