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Lyft, Uber make big changes to COVID-19 mask policies

Passengers using the two most popular ridesharing apps can now choose to go maskless.

WASHINGTON — Uber said Tuesday that its passengers will no longer need to wear COVID-19 masks, and Lyft made a similar announcement soon after. 

The ridesharing apps' decisions followed the lead of many airlines and airports after a federal judge in Florida ruled the CDC had overstepped its bounds by extending the mandate for another two weeks. 

RELATED: Mask rules different at every airport after TSA mandate struck down

"Masks are now optional while riding or driving with Lyft," the company said via email. "We know that everyone has different comfort levels, and anyone who wants to continue wearing a mask is encouraged to do so. As always, drivers or riders can decline to accept or cancel any ride they don’t wish to take." 

In an update to its website, Lyft said riders and drivers are no longer required to keep the front seat empty or the windows open.

Uber told U.S. customers of the changes in a tweet, adding that mask usage is still recommended while sharing a car. Uber's website clarifies that masks are now optional for drivers as well.

For much of the past two years, drivers and passengers sharing cars for both ride-share companies have been required to wear a mask at all times while in the vehicle. The front seat was also barred from use, limiting the number of people any car could carry. A guide from Lyft for drivers also recommended keeping windows open for added air circulation.

The move puts Uber and Lyft in line with many of the country's busiest airports, which rushed to drop their requirements on Monday after the Transportation Security Administration announced it wouldn’t enforce a January 2021 security directive that applied to airplanes, airports, taxis and other mass transit.

But the ruling still gave those entities the option to keep their mask rules in place, resulting in directives that could vary from city to city.

Passengers on a United Airlines flight from Houston to New York, for instance, could ditch their masks at their departing airport and on the plane, but have to put them back on once they land at Kennedy Airport or take a subway.

The White House said the mask order “is not in effect at this time” and called the court decision disappointing.

The Justice Department declined to comment on whether it would seek an emergency stay to block the judge’s order. The CDC also declined to comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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