A federal judge in Florida has voided the national mask mandate covering airplanes and other public transportation as exceeding the authority of U.S. health officials.
The decision Monday by U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention improperly failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rulemaking.
The mask mandate was recently extended by President Joe Biden’s administration until May 3.
"The Mandate exceeded the CDC's statutory authority, improperly invoked the good cause exception to notice and comment rulemaking, and failed to adequately explain its decisions. Because 'our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends,' the Court declares unlawful and vacates the Mask Mandate," Mizelle wrote.
The Biden administration extended the mandate amid a small increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.
A number of states have sued the federal government to order an end to the mask mandate that covers passengers and crew onboard planes, trains buses and rideshares.
The plaintiffs claim there is no "high-quality data to support the efficacy of mask mandates, case numbers and hospitalizations experiencing a large downward trend, and 81.7% of the population having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine."
It was not immediately clear if or when the order would go into effect or whether the CDC will appeal. The Justice Department declined to comment, but released a statement to ABC News.
"We’re reviewing the decision and are declining any further comment," the department said.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose state was among those that sued the government, celebrated the ruling.
"Great to see a federal judge in Florida follow the law and reject the Biden transportation mask mandate. Both airline employees and passengers deserve to have this misery end," he said.