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Europe: As COVID-19 pandemic ebbs, EU lifts mask requirement for air travel

Europe: The European Union will no longer require masks to be worn at airports and on aeroplanes from next week onwards amid the easing of COVID-19 restrictions all over the bloc, authorities said on Wednesday.

The Aviation Safety Agency of the European Union stated that it expected the joint decision, made with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, would mark “a significant step ahead in the normalization of air travel” for passengers and crews.

The latest guideline “takes account of the latest outcomes in the pandemic, particularly the levels of vaccination and naturally acquired immunity, and the simultaneous lifting of restrictions in a growing number of European nations,” the two agencies said in a joint statement.

“However, passengers should act responsibly and respect the decisions of others,” stressed EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky. “A passenger coughing or sneezing should definitely consider using a face mask for the comfort of others seated close.”

While the latest recommendations will come into effect on May 16, rules for masks may still vary by airline beyond that date if they fly to or from destinations where the regulations are separate.

Washing hands and social distance should still be practised, according to Andrea Ammon, head of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, but airport operators should not impose distancing measures if they are likely to cause a bottleneck.

According to the authorities, airlines should also have systems for gathering passenger locator information on standby if they are needed in the future, such as if a new deadly variant emerges.

 

Zurab Kvaratskhelia

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