AviationFrom 16 May onward, travellers flying on European airplanes no longer need to wear masks.

Look ma, no masks on EU flights!

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Face masks will be optional in European airports and aircrafts.
Face masks will be optional in European airports and aircrafts. Photo Credit: GettyImages/Marcos Calvo

The EU is removing the mask mandate for air travel under the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) support as the Covid-19 crisis continues to ease.

“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 Patrick Ky, executive director of European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). “For passengers and aircrews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel.”

Travellers are encouraged to respect the choices of others, and mask up if they’re coughing and sneezing. This relaxation of measures takes into consideration the higher vaccination rates, levels of naturally acquired immunity and easing pandemic rules in numerous European countries.

However, EASA notes that the optional mask policy may be challenging for airlines and passengers flying between destinations with varied safety protocols and calls for airlines to “comply with the regulations applicable to the routes they are operating”.

While the mask mandate will also be dispensed with in European airports, travellers passing through the airports are still encouraged to observe safe distancing measures. Airport operators though have been told to adopt a pragmatic approach to this and avoid imposing distancing requirements if this will lead to delays.

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