The latest advice from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was issued on Tuesday, a little more than two weeks since a federal judge ruled against the mandatory transportation mask rule.
“At this time, CDC recommends that everyone aged 2 and older — including passengers and workers — properly wear a well-fitting mask or respirator over the nose and mouth in indoor areas of public transportation,” said the health authority.
Last month, US Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Florida overturned a mandatory ruling on wearing face masks on planes and trains, stating that it exceeded the CDC's statutory authority.
Shortly after, the White House announced that the mask order was not in effect, and that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would not enforce the federal mask mandate at this time.
Several airlines chose to end compulsory requirements for travellers to wear masks on flights.
Delta, American Airlines, Southwest and JetBlue — the first major US airline to require all passengers to wear face coverings at the start of the global pandemic — announced that they were ending mask mandates on flights following the ruling.
A video showing passengers on a Delta flight from New York to San Francisco went viral when travellers took off their masks and celebrated after a flight attendant announced that “masks are completely optional this evening for all crew and passengers as well".
Reactions from the public to the ruling were mixed, with some people on social media welcoming the move, while others said it was premature or expressed concern for those not yet vaccinated or with compromised immune systems.
A day after the judge's ruling, Walt Disney World lifted the last of its mask requirements, meaning face coverings are optional for visitors at all locations on the central Florida Disney property.
“It is important for all of us to protect not only ourselves, but also to be considerate of others at increased risk for severe Covid-19 and those who are not yet able to be vaccinated,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Tuesday.
“Wearing a mask in indoor public transportation settings will provide protection for the individual and the community.”
The US continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, with 404,930 new cases in the past week, according to data from Johns Hopkins. All states have now fully vaccinated at least 50 per cent of their population.