EU to drop mandatory face mask rule in airports and on flights

In a joint statement, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) confirmed the change, saying the measure would help alleviate the burden on the travel industry

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The EU will drop its ruling on mandatory face masks in airports and on flights this week.

In a joint statement, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) confirmed the change, saying the measure would help dampen the burden on the travel industry.

The rule is set to be dropped on 16 May, however some airlines are likely to keep the measure in place.

Passengers in airports across Europe will be able to stop wearing face masks in many cases.
Passengers in airports across Europe will be able to stop wearing face masks in many cases.

“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 normalisation of air travel.

“Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them."

The vaccine rollout has been praised for playing its part in allowing the measure to be introduced.
The vaccine rollout has been praised for playing its part in allowing the measure to be introduced.

New guidance coming in on that date will also urge airport operators to avoid imposing distancing requirements "if these will very likely lead to a bottleneck".

The revised protocol does state however, face mask rulings should be in line with national measures on wearing face masks on public transport.

This means they may still be required in some cases, depending on the country of departure or destination.

Andrea Ammon, Director of the ECDC, praised the vaccine rollout, saying they have allowed us 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.

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination States should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”