Passengers traveling by plane in Europe from next week should no longer be required to wear a mask on their flight or at an airport, according to guidance issued Wednesday by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
The agencies said the levels of vaccination, naturally acquired immunity and the lifting of restrictions in several European countries are behind the decision to remove the mandatory mask recommendation that has been in place since 2020.
But the pair say that wearing a face mask is “still one of the best protections against the transmission of COVID-19.”
“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. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”
The new recommendations will come into force from May 16. But the agencies said mask rules will still vary from airline to airline beyond that date.
Passengers traveling on flights to or from a destination where mask-wearing is still mandatory on public transport may still be required to wear a mask, for example.