Two EU agencies – The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) – have announced that they will no longer be recommending that airlines require mandatory mask-wearing on flights.
The agencies, which are responsible for aviation safety and controlling the spread of diseases, say that the rules should be left to the discretion of each airline, going forward.
Both of the EU authorities have updated their guidelines on health and safety measures for air travel, and these changes will be effective from next week.
Although masks will no longer be mandatory from next week, the actual rules will continue to vary between airlines, and mask-wearing is still encouraged by public health bodies.
The recommendations also highlighted the fact that those in vulnerable groups, like the elderly and those with existing health conditions, should continue to wear face masks.
EASA executive director Patrick Ky said: “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.”
“It is a relief to all of us that we are finally reaching a stage in the pandemic where we can start to relax the health safety measures,” he added.
ECDC director Andrea Ammon said: “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.”
She added that “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”
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