The European Union will no longer require masks to be worn at airports and on planes starting next week, amid the easing of coronavirus restrictions across the bloc, authorities said on Wednesday. facemasks european flights
In the updated joint Aviation Health Safety Protocol introduced to address Covid-19, the agencies dropped the recommendation mandatory medical mask wearing in airports and on board flights, while stating that face masks are still one of the “best protections against the transmission of Covid-19”.
Rules for masks will vary by airline beyond May 16
It should be noted that the new recommendations on face mask wearing come into effect from May 16, 2022, but rules for masks will continue to vary by airline beyond that date, the statement said.
According to the EASA/ECDC, flights to or from destinations where mask-wearing is still required on public transport should continue to encourage mask wearing.
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— ECDC (@ECDC_EU) May 11, 2022
EU authorities also advise vulnerable passengers to continue wearing a high protection (FFP2/N95/KN95) face mask regardless of the rules. Passengers are also encouraged to maintain safe distances indoors, including at the airport.
“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky.“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalization of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them,” he added.
The decision takes into account of the latest developments in the pandemic, including levels of vaccination and naturally acquired immunity, and comes at a time when many European countries are fully lifting restrictions.
“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission,” said ECDC Director Andrea Ammon.
She went on to add that rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators make sure to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.
“The importance of these measures should continue to be effectively communicated to passengers for their safety, and ECDC will continue to work with our colleagues at EASA to regularly assess and amend the recommendations as necessary,” she said.
Airlines & airports welcome new guidance facemasks european flights
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and ACI Europe, the trade association of Europe’s airports, issued statements and welcomed the new guidance from EASA and ECDC on removing the recommendation that masks should be required in airports and in-flight.
According to IATA, the recommendation to relax the mask mandate is another important step along the road back to normality for air passengers.
“Travelers can look forward to freedom of choice on whether to wear a mask. And they can travel with confidence knowing that many features of the aircraft cabin, such as high frequency air exchange and high efficiency filters, make it one of the safest indoor environments,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
ACI EUROPE Director General Olivier Jankovec said the new guidance marks another step in the safe recovery of European aviation and tourism, just as demand is fast increasing and prospects for the summer look very positive.
“It will make the travel experience much more pleasant and should also help to ease operations – while keeping passengers and staff safe,” Jankovec said. facemasks european flights
IATA highlighted that several jurisdictions still maintain mask requirements. “That is a challenge for airlines and passengers flying between destinations with different requirements,” the association said.
In its statement, ACI EUROPE urged all European states to follow and implement the guidelines of EASA and ECDC.