Governor Pritzker mask mandate: Are masks required in airports? CTA, Metra, more drop face covering requirement after rulings

CHICAGO (WLS) — Chicago-area residents began their morning commute without a mask Wednesday for the first time in a long time, and public transit riders had mixed feelings.

Govt. JB Pritzker amended Illinois’ public transit mask mandate Tuesday 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 it 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 Center for Disease Control and Prevention’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.”

On Wednesday morning, it appeared to be 50/50 with riders wearing masks versus those who weren’t.
“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 .

Pace has also made masks optional.

“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.”

With masks now optional on all public transit in Illinois, Brian Maher from Orland Park decided not to wear his.

“Where the hospitalization rates are going and the infection rates are going all seems to be positive. I am double-vaccinated and boosted so I feel pretty safe,” the Metra commuter said.

Frandolf Reyes from Bartlett thing to wear his mask on the train Wednesday.

“I just I’ve just been so used to it, and I feel safer that way. Yeah it’s just more of a habit than anything,” Reyes said.

Uber and Lyft have dropped their requirements as well.

“I’m just not used to being out and about on a train and seeing people without masks, but since I saw yesterday I chose not to wear my mask today,” Metra commuter Alees Edwards said.

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

Metra commuter Dylan Mattox says he noticed many riders take off their face coverings this morning when the conductor made an announcement that they were optional, but he plans to keep his on for now.

WATCH: Local doctor weighs in on mask mandate changes

“As of right now, I’m gonna be wearing it because I did notice in the past like two years I’ve gotten sick like way less than I usually do,” he said.

And as of Wednesday morning, CPS and Elgin District U-46 have both said masks are no longer required on school buses.

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