DALLAS – After two years of enforcement, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have announced they will no longer require passengers to wear face masks in airports and on flights in the European Union. The relaxation will come into force from Monday, May 16.
This follows the move by British Airways (BA), Virgin Atlantic (VS) and London Heathrow Airport (LHR) who all announced in March that they would drop their mandatory face mask policies.
Several US airlines also removed their mask requirements in April. This followed a ruling by a federal judge in Florida ruled that the mask mandate on public transport was unlawful.
“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,” EASA said in a statement. “This takes account of the latest developments in the pandemic, in particular the levels of vaccination and naturally acquired immunity, and the accompanying lifting of restrictions in a growing number of European countries.”
‘Passengers Must Behave Responsibly’
EASA’s Chief Executive Patrick Ky also commenced: “For many passengers, and also aircrew members, there is a strong desire for masks to no longer be a mandatory part of air travel. We are now at the start of that process. However, passengers must behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them.”
Indeed, both agencies have said that rules on masks are expected to vary depending on the airline or airport. Both will be able to implement their own requirements. Many, it is believed, will still encourage passengers to use masks, especially for those travelling on flights to or from a destination where mask-wearing is still mandatory on public transport.
The ECDC has also advised that systems for collecting passenger locator information should be kept on standby if needed in the future, for example, if a “new variant of concern” emerges.