BZN airport

A ground controller directs airplane traffic on the tarmac of Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport on Oct. 14.

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Masks are no longer required in the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport after a federal judge in Florida struck down the federal travel mask mandate on Monday.

Airport Director Brian Sprenger said Tuesday that all the airlines that serve Bozeman have announced that masks are optional on board. 

Days before the judge’s ruling, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had extended the mandate until early May to allow for more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant of the coronavirus, which is now the dominant variant in the country.

The Gallatin City-County Health Department reported Friday that the seven-day rolling average was 24.8 COVID-19 cases per 100,000, a 27.8% decrease from last week’s average.

There were 46 active COVID-19 cases in Gallatin County on Friday.

Sprenger noted the change brings the airport in line with most other public settings in the state.

“At airports, especially like those of us in Montana, we’re essentially one of the last areas in the region that had a mask mandate, so it wasn't uncommon for people to forget,” Sprenger said. “Over the past few months with most localities basically no longer having the mask mandate, it became harder and harder for the airlines to enforce.”

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte revoked the statewide mask mandate after taking office early in 2021, but Gallatin County had a local mask mandate until that spring.

With one door onto an airplane, Sprenger noted it was much easier for airlines to enforce the mandate than it was for the airport, with multiple entry points and spaces.

Sprenger said they will keep a bin of masks at the airport's doors for the time being.

There have been varying interpretations of the federal judge’s ruling across the country. Some airports and airlines immediately switched to a mask optional policy — including some who changed the policy mid-flight.

Some cities, like New York and Los Angeles, are continuing to require masks on mass transit.

Masks are still required on the Streamline bus system, according to the Human Resources Development Council, which cited CDC guidance.

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Nora Shelly can be reached at nshelly@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2607.

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