Australians travelling in Europe this northern spring will no longer have to wear masks at airports or on planes.
The European Union said from Monday masks will no longer be required at European airports and on planes, amid the widespread easing of Covid-19 restrictions across the continent.
However, individual EU member states can still require masks.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said it hoped ditching masks would mark ‘a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel’.
Australians travelling in Europe this northern spring will no longer have to wear masks at airports or on planes. Pictured is a woman on a plane wearing a mask
The step was taken after considering vaccination levels and naturally acquired immunity, as well as the lifting of restrictions in a growing number of European countries.
EASA executive director Patrick Ky cautioned that passengers should still behave responsibly.
‘A passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby,’ he said.
The new recommendations take effect from Monday but rules for masks may still vary by airline if they fly to or from destinations where the rules are different.
Germany’s health ministry said it will continue to require all passengers over the age of six to wear medical masks on flights to, from or within the country, though they can be removed during meals.
Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, said although the wearing of masks would no longer be compulsory, it was important to remember that ‘together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene, it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission’.
Airports are advised not to impose distancing requirements if these are likely to lead to a bottleneck.
From Monday, May 16, wearing face masks on flights in Europe will no longer be compulsory. Pictured are people on a plane
People are pictured on a flight, not wearing masks, as it was before the Covid-19 pandemic
Airlines welcomed the changes and called for a consistent approach to mask mandates.
‘We believe that mask requirements on board aircraft should end when masks are no longer mandated in other parts of daily life, for example theatres, offices or on public transport,’ said Willie Walsh, director-general of the International Air Transport Association.
Separately, the French government has announced that people will no longer have to wear facemasks in any forms of public transport from next Monday.
Health minister Olivier Veran said that the decision is part of policies to lift most restrictions as the pandemic is slowing down in the country.
LATEST 24-HOUR COVID-19 DATA
NSW: 12,600 new cases, 23 deaths, 1,403 in hospital with 56 in ICU
Victoria: 14,333 new cases, 15 deaths, 545 in hospital with 29 in ICU
Tasmania: 1,058 new cases, one death, 42 in hospital with one in ICU
Queensland: 7,425 new cases, 459 in hospital with 14 in ICU
South Australia: 4,299 new cases, 232 in hospital with 7 in ICU
Western Australia: 7,118 new cases, three deaths, 3,116 in hospital with 127 in ICU
Northern Territory: 340 new cases, 27 in hospital with none in ICU
ACT: 1,242 new cases, 76 in hospital