The EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) & the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) announced on Wednesday that the suggestion for required face masks in airports and on board flights would be abolished as of Monday, May 16.
The duty is no longer necessary, according to the organizations, because of the EU’s vaccination rate and the population’s naturally acquired immunity following a Covid-19 infection, as well as the relaxation of limitations in a rising number of nations.
Moreover, EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky mentioned in the statement, “From next week, face masks will no longer required to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities all over Europe for public transport.”
“For passengers and aircrews, this is a big step forward in the normalization of air travel,” he stated, stressing that passengers should still “behave responsibly” as well as “respect the choices of others around them.” Coughing and sneezing passengers should also “strongly consider” wearing a face mask to reassure those seated nearby.
Along with this, there are different airlines and different rules. While the general recommendation will be lifted up from Monday, May 16, mask rules can still continue to vary by airline.
Flights to or from a destination where face mask-wearing is still needed on public transport, such as Belgium, should continue to encourage mask-wearing.
Most major US airlines, including United Airlines, Delta, American Airlines, and Southwest, removed the need to wear a face mask in April. TUI Fly was the first Belgian airline to follow suit not long after, with Brussels Airlines following suit two weeks later.
Furthermore, on Wednesday, ECDC Director Andrea Ammon highlighted, “While risks do remain, we have seen non-pharmaceutical interventions (such as social distancing, hand hygiene and mask-wearing) and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal.”