Qantas will no longer require passengers to wear masks on some of its international flights after the airline decided to ditch the mask mandate in “an important step in our transition to living with COVID”.
Masks will no longer be mandatory on non-stop flights from Australia to Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. Passengers will still be required to wear a mask for all domestic flights and the mask mandate will still remain in place for passengers on all inbound flights
The airline announced the change in a memo issued to staff on Tuesday, June 21.
“The change to in-flight mask requirements on some international flights is an important step in our transition to living with COVID, and we welcome this change,” the memo read.
“The removal of mask mandates for airports and some international flights reinforces that the lifting of mask mandates onboard aircraft in all settings is the appropriate next step, with global studies showing the risk of transmission inside the cabin is very low.
“As more destination countries relax onboard mask requirements, we will continue to update the Coronavirus Travel Restrictions and inform you of further changes.”
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton recently called for the mask mandates on international flights to be lifted during an interview with 2GB Radio.
“We’ve taken a decision to take the health advice, that’s always prudent. But if you’ve got a situation where on one leg of the flight you’ve got to wear a mask, but not the other, that just doesn’t make sense,” he said.
“People have a choice. If you want to wear a mask, if you want to have your kids wearing a mask as well, that’s a decision for you … but I don’t support a mandating of it,” he said.
Peter Dutton has weighed in.https://t.co/tUx99XIYRi
— 2GB Sydney (@2GB873) June 20, 2022
The announcement from Qantas comes after Australians were told that they could wander mask-free within Australian airports as the nation prepares to scrap mandatory airport mask mandates at midnight on Friday, June 17.
Though travellers will still be required to wear their masks on all flights, according to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), the nation’s top health officials, the use of face masks will no longer be necessary for travellers and airport workers as many indoor settings have already lifted the mandate inside their venues.
“This changed advice comes after the AHPPC has reviewed the current Covid-19 situation in Australia and considers it no longer proportionate to mandate mask-wearing in the terminals,” Health Minister Mark Butler and Infrastructure Minister Catherine King said in a joint statement.
The statement also highlights that while the mask mandate has been lifted the AHPPC continues to “strongly recommended Australians continue to wear masks as a key measure to help minimise the spread of Covid-19 and influenza”.
“Masks help us protect the most vulnerable in our community who are unable to get vaccinated and people who have a higher risk of developing severe illness.”