KENTUCKY — Face masks are now optional for travelers in Kentucky. All of Kentucky's major airports and several public transit systems announced Tuesday that masks are no longer required, effective immediately.

What You Need To Know

  • Kentucky airports and bus systems dropped their mask mandates on Tuesday

  • The changes come after Monday's court ruling that struck down the Biden admin's travel mask mandate

  • Masks may still be required by individual airlines and for international travel

  • The mask requirement for travelers was the target of months of lobbying from major airlines

Louisville's TARC and Muhammad Ali International airport cited the latest change in TSA guidance following a federal judge in Florida's ruling that effectively struck down the Biden administration's travel mask mandate.

Masks may still be required by individual airlines and for international travel, SDF said in a statement. They encourage all travels to check with their airlines and flight destinations to clear up guidance on face covering rules.

Lexington's Blue Grass Airport and Lextran bus system also announced that masks are now optional. Northern Kentucky's CVG airport dropped its mask-related directives as well.

The decision Monday by U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rulemaking. 

An administration official subsequently issued a statement saying while multiple agencies are "reviewing the decision and assessing potential next steps," Monday's court ruling means the CDC's "public transportation masking order is not in effect at this time."

"Therefore, TSA will not enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs at this time," the official added. "CDC recommends that people continue to wear masks in indoor public transportation settings."

In her 59-page ruling, Mizelle said the CDC did not follow rules forward by the Administrative Procedure Act when imposing the mask mandate.  

Travelers learned about the new rules while at the airport. (Spectrum News 1/Mason Brighton)

"The court concludes that the mask mandate exceeds the CDC's statutory authority and violates the procedures required for agency rulemaking under the APA," the filing read in part. "Accordingly, the court vacates the mandate and remands it to the CDC." 

Mizelle also said the only remedy was to vacate the rule entirely because it would be impossible to end it for the limited group of people who objected to it in the lawsuit.

The judge said “a limited remedy would be no remedy at all” and that the courts have full authority to make a decision such as this — even if the goals of the CDC in fighting the virus are laudable.

The mask requirement for travelers was the target of months of lobbying from major airlines, which sought to kill it. The carriers argued that effective air filters on modern planes make transmission of the virus during a flight highly unlikely. Republicans in Congress also fought to kill the mandate.

Critics have seized on the fact that states have rolled back rules requiring masks in restaurants, stores and other indoor settings, and yet COVID-19 cases have fallen sharply since the omicron variant peaked in mid-January.