Los Angeles County is issuing a new health officer order that continues to require masks at airports, on all public transit and in other indoor transportation hubs.
The new order comes after a federal judge on Monday overturned a federal mandate that required masks on trains, planes, buses and at travel hubs. Then on Wednesday, the Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal seeking to reverse the decision at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Also Wednesday, the California Department of Public Health updated its state guidance to recommend — but no longer require — masks on public transit.
Despite any federal or state changes, the nation’s most populous county is keeping mask rules in place as COVID-19 cases and test positivity rates increase, according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health.
“This order supports the CDC’s assessment that, at this time, requiring masking in the transportation quarter remains essential for protecting the public’s health,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday. “Transportation settings are often crowded, with limited and inadequate ventilation and deemed to be higher risk settings for virus transmission.”
Per the L.A. County order, which goes into effect Friday, masks are required to be worn by everyone age 2 and older, regardless of their COVID-19 vaccine status.
The face coverings must be worn on all public transit within the county, including on commuter trains, subways, buses, taxis and rideshares, and in indoor transportation hubs including airports and bus terminals, train and subway stations, and sea ports.
After a judge in Florida on Monday struck down the federal mandate, the Transportation Security Administration said it is no longer enforcing the federal government’s mask mandate for travel.
LAX had also announced it would no longer be enforcing the use of masks, and neither will several major airlines. L.A. Metro, LADOT, DASH buses, Amtrak, Metrolink, Orange County Buses and the Ventura County Transportation Commission had all said they, too, would drop the mandate earlier this week.
But although LAX and L.A. County transportation agencies would be required to follow the order, it was not immediately clear whether they would reverse their new rules or continue to forgo masks and defy the public health order.