by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Biden administration announced an extension to the federal mask mandate for airplanes, airports, and public transit, upsetting a host of critics who cheered the end of COVID-19 restrictions in blue states and public buildings.
President Joe Biden conducted a mask-optional State of the Union address, and the White House went maskless days later as the nation began moving out of the panic phase of the pandemic. Nonetheless, passengers in almost anything but a private vehicle will be required to wear a mask until at least April 18, the fourth extension of a mandate introduced soon after Biden took office.
“Apparently government doesn’t want to relinquish its power and plans to extend the mask mandate on planes & public transportation,” Sen. Rand Paul, a noted restriction critic, tweeted when the news broke. “Not on my watch! I’ll be forcing a vote next week to end this unscientific mandate.”
Paul’s tweet linked to a Washington Examiner story detailing his plans to end the mandates, including his introduction of the Travel Mask Mandate Repeal Act of 2021 last July.
Other Republicans and conservative groups were similarly irked, with Tea Party Patriots Action pointing out the final statewide mask mandate will end March 25 and predicting another federal extension beyond April.
“Despite the fact that they think mask mandates should no longer apply to them — remember the State of the Union address, where no one had to wear one? — it’s clear they don’t want the rest of us to go back to normal. What a bunch of hypocrites,” the Atlanta-based group said in a statement.
“They refuse to recognize the damage that COVID mandates have done and continue to do to our country,” the statement continued. “Our economy, our health, our children and their education, all of them harmed by unnecessary and damaging lockdowns, vaccine mandates, and mask mandates. The administration made the wrong decision today. We’re not surprised.”