GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -Travelers will no longer be required to wear masks as they move through the Grand Junction Regional Airport after the federal mask mandate expired.
The mandate was set to expire April 18, but last week that deadline was extended by 15 days. But then yesterday, an injunction was filed and the mandate expired and the T.S.A. said it would no longer enforce the mandate.
“Since early on in the pandemic, the airports have been responsible for enforcing a federally imposed mask mandate at airports,” said Airport Executive Director, Angela Padalecki. “The airlines have been responsible on the aircraft. It’s that federal mandate that is no longer in effect.”
She says of course travelers can choose to still wear masks and she expects some still will wear masks. Since the mandate expired, Padalecki says travelers coming through Grand Junction Regional Airport are smiling and seem more comfortable.
“So it’s a really exciting day at the airport, you can walk around and see everyone’s smiles,” said Padalecki. “Passengers seem happy about it. Certainly some passengers have mixed feelings and might feel a little bit nervous about it, but I think the low case counts and current circumstances here in Grand Junction make for a pretty optimistic day here at the airport.”
Many travelers were not even aware of the change until they arrived in the terminal.
“We were just returning the rental car and the first thought i had was hey everybody make sure you have your masks. make sure you’re masked up, it’s time,” said traveler Srini Surendranath. “So as we walked in we had no idea, and so it was quite a surprise and quite a pleasant surprise to know that we don’t have to today.”
Surendranath said his family travels regularly and they traveled often even during the pandemic. He said his family were happy and willing to wear masks, but believes wearing the masks detract from the travel experience.
I think especially for my children who are all 12-year-olds, they’re triplets, as it turns out,” said Surendranath. “But for them to have to endure it, I’m just grateful for them to just be able to enjoy the experience. “
According to Padalecki, during the pandemic, travelers coming through Grand Junction Regional were very respectful of the mask mandate and she says that says a lot about the community here.
“We’re just so grateful that the community stuck with us through the pandemic, continued to use the airport, continued to fly,” said Padalecki. “Even when they had to wear the mask. I know that was hard at times and now for those folks that don’t want to wear a mask, they don’t have to. We’re eager to see everyone getting back in the skies and going on those trips they’ve been waiting for.”
Montrose Regional Airport also said they would no longer require travelers to wear masks.
Grand Valley Transit said people would no longer be required to wear masks on busses.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism