Delta, others push hard to end COVID-19 restrictions as metro Atlanta approaches Spring Break

ATLANTA — As schools in metro Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia approach Spring Break, the question becomes: if traveling, how does one get to one’s location?

If Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and other air carriers get their way, air travel for the traditional week off from school could become much easier.

Delta and the other airlines want the federal COVID-19 testing and mask requirements for travelers to end as soon as possible.

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Channel 2′s Tom Regan spoke to travelers at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. Most were ready for the restrictions to end.

“If the science says this is all good, I’m down for it,” said Mike Rajko.

The Irwin’s, who are visiting Atlanta from Cleveland, said they are looking forward to the day they can fly mask-free.

“It would be great to get back to normal whenever they are ready,” said Rachel Irwin. “I’m ready.”

Executives from six major airlines and air transport companies sent a letter to President Joe Biden requesting that he eliminate the mask requirements for airport and airplanes along with international pre-departure COVID-19 testing. The letter stated the provisions are “no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment.”

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Fred Liggins told Regan that since restrictions have been lifted in many states and countries, it’s time to allow personal choice on virus protections. He said that includes mask-wearing.

“I know safety comes first, but I also think it should be a personal decision,” Liggins said.

Veronica Wheeler believes that with more COVID-19 variants popping up, now is not the time to drop the mask requirements on passenger jets or in airports.

“I don’t feel comfortable about that at all,” Wheeler said. “It’s all too soon, personally. That’s how I feel. I do.”

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Delta’s Chief Executive Officer, Ed Bastian, said that the cleaning and safety precautions utilized by Delta and other airlines are enough to keep passengers safe.

“Considering the improved public health metrics in the U.S. and medical advancements to prevent the worst outcomes of COVID-19, the federal mask mandate and pre-departure testing no longer fits with the current environment,” Bastian said. “We appreciate the leadership of the federal government throughout the pandemic. Current data and science show it’s time to move from mandates to guidance and personal health choices.”

The White House has not responded to the letter and has not indicated if or when they would consider loosening the restrictions.