EU to drop face mask mandate for air travel

Mandatory face masks for flights dropped by EU authorities. EASA and ECDC say while masks would be no longer required from May 16th they still help protect against Covid-19.

Face masks will not have to be worn in airports and on flights in the EU from May 16th, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said on Wednesday.

“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,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said.

In a statement, the organisations said they were “ dropping the recommendation for mandatory wearing of medical masks in airports and on board a flight while noting that a face mask is still one of the best protection against the transmission of Covid-19”.

They said this “takes account of the latest developments in the pandemic, in particular, the levels of vaccination and naturally acquired immunity and the accompanying lifting of restrictions in a growing number of European countries”

ECDC Director Andrea Ammon said that even though wearing masks would not be mandatory “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.”

Rules for wearing masks are expected to vary after the mandatory requirement is lifted, with airlines told to encourage passengers to use masks on flights to or from destinations where wearing a mask on public transport is still required, the agencies said.

A number of US airlines said they would no longer require masks in April after a federal judge in Florida ruled that the U.S. administration’s mask mandate on public transport was unlawful. –Reuters