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Delta Air Lines will not immediately take mask rule-breakers off no-fly list

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Camilo Freedman/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Delta Air Lines passengers placed on the company's no-fly list for refusing to comply with COVID-19 masking requirements will not immediately have their flight privileges restored after the federal mask mandate on public transit was struck down in court.

President Joe Biden's administration on Monday said that following a Florida judge's ruling that the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention's mask mandate for public transportation was unlawful, the Transportation Security Administration would no longer enforce the masking requirements on airplanes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transit and transportation hubs.

In response, Delta Air Lines told media outlets Wednesday that it will conditionally "restore flight privileges" to about 2,000 customers who had been put on a no-fly list after refusing to comply with the mask mandate.

A spokesman for the company told Fox Business that Delta will take customers off the non-compliance no-fly list "only after each case is reviewed and each customer demonstrates an understanding of their expected behavior when flying with us."

"Any further disregard for the policies that keep us all safe will result in placement on Delta's permanent no-fly list," spokesman Anthony Black added. "Customers who demonstrated egregious behavior and are already on the permanent no-fly list remain barred from flying with Delta."

Another major airline, United Airlines, said Tuesday that it will allow the roughly 1,000 people who were banned from flying for refusing to wear a mask to return to flights on a "case by case basis," Reuters reports. United said those people would have their flight privileges restored "after ensuring their commitment to follow all crewmember instructions on board."

The CDC's mask mandate was recently extended through May 3 before U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle ruled that the agency had exceeded its statutory authority by imposing the mask rules. Airlines and flight attendants unions have for months expressed opposition to the mandate, but government health officials argue it is still needed as COVID-19 cases are rising thanks to the BA.2 Omicron subvariant.

The CDC on Wednesday asked the Department of Justice to appeal the Florida judge's ruling and DOJ later announced it had filed a notice of appeal.

"It is CDC's continuing assessment that at this time an order requiring masking in the indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for the public health," the CDC said in a statement. "CDC will continue to monitor public health conditions to determine whether such an order remains necessary. CDC believes this is a lawful order, well within CDC’s legal authority to protect public health."

In the interim, several airlines have made masks optional for passengers.

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