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Alaska Airlines lifts mask requirement

Katie Basile
The Alaska Airlines jet lands on October 29, 2020 in Bethel, Alaska.

Alaska Airlines announced Monday it is ending its mask requirement.

In a news release, the airline said that — effective immediately — masks are optional on Alaska Airlines flights and in airports across the country.

The decision to lift the requirement came after a federal judge overturned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mask mandate for airplanes and other transportation.
Last week, the federal transportation mask mandate was extended through May 3 so that health officials could further study the omicron variant of COVID-19. Monday’s decision makes that extension irrelevant.

In March, the CEOs of the country’s major airlines had signed a request to President Joe Biden to drop the mask mandate. And the governors of 21 states, including Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, sued the federal government over the mandate.

Alaska Airlines had a mask requirement for passengers for two years. The company’s news release specifically addresses passengers who had been banned from flying on the airline for refusing to wear a mask, like Alaska Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River. It said that some guests whose “behavior was particularly egregious” would remain banned even after the mask policy ended.

Other major airlines, including United Airlines, made similar announcements Monday about moving to masking-optional policies.
In Anchorage, the city bus system People Mover also dropped its face mask requirement.

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Shayne Nuesca, KTOO - Juneau
Jennifer Pemberton, KTOO