Illinois mask mandate amended by Gov. Pritzker to make masking voluntary on transit, in airports

Airport, Metra, CTA mask mandates dropped in response

Wednesday, April 20, 2022
Pritzker ends public transit, airport mask mandate for Illinois
Governor JB Pritzker announced he is ending Illinois' mask mandate for public transit and airports after the federal mandate was struck down by a Florida judge,

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Governor JB Pritzker amended Illinois' public transit mask mandate to align with the ruling made by a Florida judge striking down the federal mask mandate Monday.

In a statement, Pritzker's office said the order has been revised "to align with the ending of the enforcement of the federal mask mandate on public transportation." As a result, the state will no longer require masks to be worn on public transit, in public transit hubs or in airports.

The governor's officer reiterated that "local municipalities retain the right to establish their own mitigations, including masking requirements on public transportation."

"We want to encourage local governments and businesses to take actions that they think will keep their patrons, their local residents safe," Pritzker said.

The Chicago Department of Aviation said in will follow the updated order and no longer require masks at O'Hare and Midway airports, adding, "Those who wish continue to masking are encouraged to do so. Please be kind and courteous to fellow riders as we continue to welcome folks back to Chicago's airports."

While TSA will no longer enforce the CDC's masking recommendation, Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady advised travelers to continue to wear masks on planes even if they're not required to.

"I just feel a lot more comfortable when I hear somebody coughing knowing that everybody has one on, and I intend to continue to wear it," she said.

"And I can tell you, for the foreseeable future for myself, I'm not getting on a plane without a mask," said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

While Chicago COVID cases are creeping up again, hospitalizations remain low so at this point the city has no plans to reinstate an indoor mask mandate.

CTA confirmed it will no longer require masking as per the governor's amended order, saying in a statement, "While the city continues to see low levels of transmission of COVID-19, customers and employees who wish to continue wearing masks are encouraged to do so. We ask all customers to be courteous and respectful to fellow riders."

"I'm still wearing it. You see I've got a mask on. I don't know, and I've got a baby, too, so I've got to do what's best," said CTA rider Tamia White.

"I do think it's a little premature. I know a lot of people are ready for it, but that doesn't make it the right choice," said CTA rider Bob Mason.

After the governor made his announcement, Metra issued a new statement saying in part, "Starting immediately, masks will be welcome but not required while traveling on Metra trains. They remain an important preventive measure against COVID-19."

The ever-changing rules had some commuters feeling a bit of whiplash Tuesday morning.

"I do think it's confusing. It's probably just one of those things where you keep a mask in your back pocket 'cause you really don't know -- kind of what are the rules, what are the guidelines?" Metra rider Jenna Little asked.

"You are sitting in close proximity and it's crowded sometimes, yes, everyone needs a mask on public transportation," said Cassandra Muhammad, CTA rider.

READ MORE: Florida judge voids US COVID-19 mask mandate for planes, public transportation

CTA rider Michael Davenport thinks it's an inconvenience and is trying to follow the rules.

"I don't want to wear it. I'm tired of it, so, like I said, I wear and sometimes I just forget about it and don't wear it," he said.

But CTA and Metra rider Frankie Vega said he feels like wearing a mask is something "we gotta do."

"Keep the mask up and make sure everybody stays as healthy as possible so we can enjoy spring and summer," he said.

Metra rider Pam Hudson agreed.

"If the rules are such as you have to wear it, if it makes people feel comfortable -- fine. Even I feel a certain level measure of comfort wearing it," she said.

Many at Midway airport ditched their face coverings Tuesday morning, and Denise Little hope Metra will also drop its requirement.

"It's time to just take the bandage off, and let's just say it's time," she said.

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