Breaking News
More () »

Indianapolis airport no longer requiring masks

Indianapolis Airport Authority said it is in the process of updating or removing signage throughout the airport.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis International Airport is no longer requiring masks in the terminal, for the first time in two years, following a ruling rescinding the national mask mandate on public transit.

Now, on most planes, trains and automobiles, travelers don't have to mask up.

On Tuesday, crews with the Indianapolis Airport Authority started taking down TSA signs at the airport that had told travelers "face masks required."

The Indianapolis Airport Authority shared the following statement with 13News Tuesday morning: 

"Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) order requiring masks at public transportation hubs is no longer in effect and TSA will not enforce mask-related security directives, masks are no longer required at the Indianapolis International Airport (IND). We’re in the process of updating or removing signage throughout the airport campus."

"It's refreshing. I mean, it's long overdue," said traveler Dan Strandberg. 

A federal judge in Florida on Monday struck down the national mask mandate on public transit.

By Tuesday, masks became optional at the airport, on planes, in Uber and Lyfts, on Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses.

IndyGo dropped a mask mandate, too, for its passengers.

Many air travelers learned of the change right before takeoff.

"I heard about the mask mandate watching the news this morning and I'm happy," said traveler Aldrin Ledwidge. "No more mask. If you don't want to wear your mask and you have all your shots, I don't see an issue."

"I started jumping up and down in the house and said, 'Yes! I don't have to deal with the mask,'" Strandberg said about hearing the news.

RELATED: Indianapolis airport travelers react to lifting of mask mandate

Andretta Erickson said she experienced the switch in real-time during a 24-hour work trip.

"So it was kind of strange to leave on a trip somewhere with a mask mandate and then come back without one," Erickson said. "About half the people on my plane had masks on."

Including Erickson.

Like about a third of the travelers in the terminal Tuesday, she decided to stay masked up.

"Part of it was habit at this point, weird to stop in the middle of a trip, but also I have an event coming up this weekend for work and it's important to me to be healthy for that," she said. "So extra precautions for another day didn't really make a big difference to me."

Some travelers are also still concerned about being vulnerable to variants, especially for children or the immunocompromised.

Tony Basile, traveling with his children to England, didn't put on a mask in the terminal, but is planning to keep the mask on a plane.

RELATED: EXPLAINER: What happens in the post-mask world of travel?

"I probably will just because of the kids. My wife has got medical issues, so it's pretty much for her," Basile said. "But for me? Doesn't bother me."

Following Monday's ruling, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines all removed the mask requirement for domestic and some international flights.

The Transportation Security Administration also announced it would no longer enforce the CDC's public transportation mask rule.

Experts weigh in

Experts who analyze pandemic data for the Regenstrief Institute say the good news is COVID cases are low right now.

"The judge's decision came at a time when COVID rates are relatively low," said Shaun Grannis, vice president for data and analytics at Regenstrief. "Even in Europe, where numbers are higher, cases are slowly coming down."

He said it's really now about assessing your own risk, understanding your immunity status and looking at case numbers for your travel destination before you go.

"If you haven't received the full course of COVID vaccines, I would strongly encourage you to, I would strongly encourage people to do so. If you really want to have that great vacation and you want to make sure you're doing everything possible, I would say consider all of the tools before you," Grannis said.

Including, if you choose, a mask.

About the judge's ruling

The decision Monday by U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention improperly failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rulemaking.

In her 59-page ruling, Mizelle said the only remedy was to vacate the rule entirely because it would be impossible to end it for the limited group of people who objected to it in the lawsuit.

RELATED: Mask rules different at every airport after TSA mandate struck down

The judge said “a limited remedy would be no remedy at all” and that the courts have full authority to make a decision such as this — even if the goals of the CDC in fighting the virus are laudable.

“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,” she wrote.

The CDC recently extended the mask mandate, which was set to expire Monday, until May 3 to allow more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant of the coronavirus that is now responsible for the vast majority of cases in the U.S.

What other people are reading: 

Before You Leave, Check This Out