KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knoxville transit drivers are breathing a bit easier today in Knoxville. Since masks are no longer required, they no longer need to enforce the wearing of them.

The Knoxville Area Transit buses lifted their mask policy on Monday after a federal judge in Florida ruled earlier this week that the national mask mandate covering airplanes and other public transportation exceeded the authority of U.S. health officials.

Bus drivers were in charge of making sure passengers complied with mask rules. No longer having to enforce this rule is a relief, according to a spokesperson. Drivers and passengers may still wear masks if they choose, but it is no longer required.

Belinda Woodiel-Brill, director of planning and public information for Knoxville Area Transit, compared drivers’ experiences with viral videos of airline passengers growing angry when masking is enforced.

“There are pros and cons to eliminating the mask mandate,” said Woodiel-Brill. “One of them will hopefully be reducing any passenger conflict that we occasionally have with folks who may not want to wear a mask.”

Woodiel-Brill refers to the drivers as “informers” rather than “enforcers.” The drivers call for assistance from operator supervisors if situations get out of control.

KAT will be keeping up with COVID cases to stay on top of the need for mask, she said.

“If cases rise again and the transportation security administration decides that there is a need to enforce a mask mandate then we will adjust again,” said Woodiel-Brill.