“The C.D.C. is extending the mask mandate for public transport for two weeks,” he wrote. “That’s not enough. Millions rely on public transportation every day to get to work or access essential services.”
In recent months, airlines and the hospitality industry have been lobbying the White House to overturn both the mask rule and the requirement to test before returning to the United States from abroad. In one of the most recent letters, dated April 8, Airlines for America, an industry group representing eight airlines; the U.S. Travel Association, a trade group representing more than 1,000 public and private organizations catering to business and leisure travelers; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business lobbying group; and the American Hotel and Lodging Association, which represents thousands of hotels, sent a letter to Dr. Jha, arguing that what they see as unnecessary measures were hurting the country economically.
“While the public health benefits of these policies have greatly diminished, the economic costs associated with maintaining these measures are significant,” they wrote.
On Wednesday, shortly before the C.D.C. announcement, Airlines for America sent yet another letter to Dr. Walensky, the C.D.C. director, pushing for a detailed explanation of why masks are still necessary on planes.
“If the federal mask mandate is extended, the administration should publish the data and science used to reach that,” Nicholas E. Calio, the president of the group, wrote.
By many accounts, enforcement has been one of the most challenging aspects of the mask mandate, with many passengers verbally and even physically assaulting flight attendants who reminded them to cover their nose and mouth. Ahead of the decision, major unions representing flight attendants and Transportation Security Administration employees, the two groups that have to deal with enforcing the rule, declined to take a stance.