Some employees and travelers continued to wear masks at the San Antonio International Airport Tuesday, the day after a judge struck down the federal mask mandate for planes and public transit.

The ruling came less than a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended the mandate through May 3. Major airlines and transit agencies announced almost immediately that they would drop mask requirements.

In San Antonio, airport officials announced via tweet that masks would no longer be required inside the airport; on Tuesday a spokeswoman said the airport “will work with its stakeholders and partners to ensure the message is shared with travelers.” VIA Metropolitan Transit also released a statement that masking would now be optional on its buses.

As the CDC continues to recommend masks to stop the spread of the virus in areas where social distancing is not possible, VIA encouraged riders to “make decisions that are in their best interests.”

As of Tuesday morning, large signs that say masks are required were still up and visible at the airport. A small clinic in the waiting area offered COVID vaccines and boosters.

“I’m happy because I feel like I have my freedom back,” said Paige Greener. “I feel like it’s important to see people’s expressions.”

Greener, who is not fully vaccinated, said she believes in immunity to combat the virus, and said she feels fear is a tool used to scare the public. 

“Honestly I think to each their own. If someone wants to do something a certain way, I’m not going to judge them… I think it’s whatever you feel most comfortable with,” she said. 

Others agreed that masking should be an individual decision, but said they would continue masking.

Sonia Cowan, who was wearing an KN95 mask, said her husband and grandson are both at high risk of severe illness if they contract the virus.

“I wear one everywhere and probably will continue to,” Cowan said. “I think (the decision is) up to the individual. I’ve had all my shots, but I still choose to wear it. I think if you don’t want to, I think you should have that choice.”

Meney Gandara, who said she has masked up during the entire pandemic, was wearing one Tuesday at the airport as she waited for someone to arrive. She said wearing a mask indoors should be enforced, but in open spaces, it may not be necessary.

“It’s my decision (to wear a mask), to protect myself and to protect others,” said Gandara. 

It’s safer to wear one and it doesn’t cost a thing.”

Raquel Torres

Raquel Torres is the San Antonio Report's breaking news reporter. She previously worked at the Tyler Morning Telegraph and is a 2020 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University.