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Travelers left confused as masking guidance shifts throughout the afternoon

Confusion for airline travelers as masking guidance shifts through the afternoon
Posted at 9:55 PM, Apr 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 00:28:11-04

DENVER — For the first time in two years, masks are coming off at the Denver International Airport.

The move comes after a federal judge in Florida ruled the national mask mandate covering airplanes and other public transportation exceeded the authority of U.S. health officials. The mandate was set to expire May 3.

Following the judge's decision, the chaos of airport travel was doubled for travelers at the Denver International Airport (DEN).

"It's contradicting," said Sunny Wilson, who was traveling home to Denver. "It's like a lot of stuff going on — don't do this, don't do that — and then we have to listen to both."

Signs reminding travelers of the federal mask mandate were still up at DIA early Monday afternoon.

Around 1:00 p.m., a DIA spokesperson told Denver7, "Until we receive further guidance from the federal government, DEN remains in compliance with the current mandate. Please reach out to the CDC or the DOJ for more information."

Three hours later, ABC News reported that an official from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) confirmed the administration could no longer enforce the mask mandate, effective immediately. Shortly thereafter, all major airlines moved to mask-optional policies.

Ryan Allen, who was traveling back from Las Vegas, recalled the moment he learned of the updates.

"Eventually the captain of our flight, he came out and made the announcement that United had just announced there would be no more masks," Allen said. "People were cheering and hollering."

DEN was next to change course.

Around 7:30 p.m., an airport spokesperson wrote to Denver7 on Twitter, "We are following the direction of TSA who is no longer enforcing the mask mandate. It will take some time for us to remove the mask signage though."

"I was kind of curious if I was going to get off the airplane and be told to put our masks back on [here in Denver], but it looks like there are probably more people wearing masks here than there were in Vegas," Allen said.

Now that masking appears to be a choice for traveling by plane in Colorado, some are praising the move, while others say they disagree.

"I'm not wearing a mask at all," Wilson said.

"If you wanna play that game, go ahead, but I'm going to keep the mask on," said Stanley Karkut, a Denver resident.

On Monday night, DEN said on social media, "Mask requirements could vary by airline or destination, so we still encourage passengers to carry a mask when traveling."