The recommendation to make the wearing of medical masks compulsory at airports and on board a flight was dropped today by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
t made the decision noting that a face mask is still one of the best protective measures against transmission of Covid-19.
It is now up to individual governments and airlines to decide whether to change their rules and recommendations.
Masks are not mandatory at Irish airports and flights but are strongly recommended. However, travelers in Italy, for example, must wear a high-quality FFP2 mask at airports and when boarding flights.
The update of the joint Aviation Health Safety Protocol takes into account the latest developments in the pandemic, in particular the level of vaccination and naturally acquired immunity and the concomitant lifting of restrictions in a growing number of European countries.
In addition to the changes to masks, the recommendations also include relaxing the tightened measures in flight operations, which will help to relieve the industry while maintaining appropriate measures.
“Starting next week, face masks will no longer have to be mandatory in all cases, largely in line with changing public transport requirements from national authorities across Europe,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky. “For passengers and flight crew, this is a major step forward in the normalization of air travel. However, passengers should behave responsibly and respect the decisions of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask to reassure those sitting nearby.”
ECDC Director Andrea Ammon said: “The evolution and ongoing updates of the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have provided travelers and flight crew with a better understanding of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants.
“Although risks remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to return to normal. Although the mandatory wearing of masks is no longer recommended in all situations, it is important to consider that along with physical distancing and good hand hygiene is one of the best ways to reduce transmission.
“The rules and requirements of the countries of departure and destination should be respected and applied consistently, and tour operators should take care to inform passengers in a timely manner of any measures required to ensure safety, and the ECDC will continue to work with our colleagues at EASA to develop the recommendations.” to be regularly evaluated and amended if necessary.”
The new face mask-wearing recommendations are set to come into effect from May 16. However, mask rules will vary from airline to airline, particularly beyond this date. For example, flights to or from a destination where mask-wearing is still required on public transport should continue to encourage mask-wearing, according to the recommendations. Vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask, regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.
Passengers are also urged to practice social distancing indoors, including at the airport, where possible. However, airport operators should proceed pragmatically here: For example, distance requirements should be avoided if they are likely to lead to bottlenecks in passenger traffic elsewhere, especially if they are not prescribed elsewhere at national or regional level.
While many states no longer require passengers to submit data via a passenger locator form, airlines should keep their data collection systems on standby so that they can provide this information to health authorities if necessary, for example in the event that a new variant gives rise to an outbreak Concern exists (VOC) which has been identified as potentially more hazardous.
New VOCs are often discovered with varying degrees of immunity escape and symptom severity, the document observed. Airport personnel, crew members and passengers should be vigilant and follow the recommendations and requirements of the national authorities of the state or region they are visiting.
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/travel-news/europe-to-drop-recommendation-for-covid-face-masks-for-air-travel-from-next-week-41638461.html Europe will drop Covid face mask recommendation for air travel from next week