Europe: Mandatory mask rule dropped for air travel as Covid-19 pandemic ebbs

Following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions across the EU, masks will no longer be required to be worn at airports and on planes beginning next week, as per the authorities. The decision was made in light of the most recent Covid-19 revisions and immunisation levels.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency said it hoped the joint decision, made with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, would mark a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel for passengers and crews.

“The new guideline takes account of the latest developments in the pandemic, particularly the levels of vaccination and naturally acquired immunity, and the accompanying lifting of restrictions in a growing number of European countries, the two agencies said in a joint statement.

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Passengers should, however, behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said. “And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”

While the new recommendations take effect on May 16, rules for masks may still vary by airline beyond that date if they fly to or from destinations where the rules are different.

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control director Andrea Ammon said washing hands and social distancing should still be practised. Still, airport operators are advised not to impose distancing requirements if these are likely to lead to a bottleneck.

The agencies also recommended that airlines keep systems for collecting passenger locator information on standby in case they are needed in future, for example, if a new dangerous variant emerges.

With inputs from Agencies

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