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Source: US Amalgamated Transit Union

WASHINGTON — In a little-noticed ruling on Friday evening, the Trump administration rejected a petition by a coalition of labor unions that had asked the federal government to require passengers to wear masks on airplanes, trains, and other major forms of transportation.

The Department of Transportation told the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO labor federation that the agency would not proceed with a regulation to mandate that passengers wear masks on modes of major commercial transportation used by tens of millions of Americans. Right now in the U.S., a patchwork of airport authorities, cities, counties, and states are deciding whether to require people to wear masks on mass transit, in airports, and on planes. France, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and other major countries have enacted national mask mandates for people using public transit.

“It is unfathomable that in the midst of a global pandemic which has killed more than 209,000 Americans, and left millions more sick and potentially facing lifelong side effects — including the president of the United States — that the U.S. Department of Transportation would outright reject such a simple, science-backed, lifesaving measure,” Transportation Trades Department president Larry Willis said in a statement. “The DOT’s decision is heartbreaking, and in light of yesterday’s news, frankly, shocking.”