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Northeast Wisconsin flyers share mixed feelings during first day without air travel mask mandate

Posted at 7:38 PM, Apr 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-20 14:09:57-04

APPLETON, Wis. (NBC 26) — After over two years at Green Bay's airport, travelers can now fly without a mask.

And people like Lisa Chapman are taking advantage.

"I love it," the Green Bay resident said. "I love it. It's much easier, less hassle. People that want to wear it can wear it."

The development comes after Monday, when a federal judge in Florida ruled against the government's face covering mandate on planes. So the TSA is no longer enforcing them.

"I look around, I don't see any facemasks today," Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport Director Marty Piette said.

All airlines flying out of Austin Straubel have dropped their requirement. But some are still in place at airports in cities like New York and Philadelphia because of local mandates.

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All airlines flying out of Austin Straubel have dropped their requirement.

"There have been elevated cases of unruly passengers," Piette said. "The data shows that the majority of those were attributed to the enforcement of the mask mandates."

The Biden administration can appeal the court decision. But when the president was asked on Tuesday if Americans should be wearing masks, he replied it's "up to them."

After the announcement, Gail Taylor flew for the first time since the pandemic started.

"I'm immune compromised and I feel safer wearing a mask on the plane and in an airport," she said before flying back to North Carolina.

Every airline that flies out of the Appleton International Airport is also choosing to go optional.

"We ultimately started to pull some of the signage down," Airport Director Abe Weber said.

Many travelers are still masked amid fears of another Covid variant. But for the foreseeable future, people can go without.

"You'll probably see the majority of people taking their mask off and seeing smiling faces everywhere for it," Weber said.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Biden administration said it will only appeal the ruling that ended the federal travel mask mandate if the CDC believes it's still needed.