Pre-testing and mask changes for European travel this week

May 20, 2022
European Union Aviation Safety Agency Executive Director Patrick Ky said "this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel". Source: Getty Images.

Australians looking to enjoy a getaway to Europe can now freely breath a sigh of relief after the European Union announced travellers will no longer be required to wear masks on planes or while in airports.

Official guidance from the European Union on face masks changed on Monday, May 16, 2022. Since then, travellers have been able to ditch the face masks marking yet another step toward normalcy for the travel industry while alleviating the burden on those looking to enjoy a relaxing holiday.

12 EU countries continue to enforce the use of masks in airports and on planes despite the change in guidance, including, Austria, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

European Union Aviation Safety Agency Executive Director Patrick Ky said “this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel”.

“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,” Ky said.

“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.”

European Centre for Disease Prevention Director Andrea Ammon cited the latest developments in the pandemic, such as the levels of vaccination among the population and the lifting of restrictions in a growing number of European countries. However, Ammon warned travellers to remain “mindful” and continue to practice social distancing and good hygiene to reduce the risk of transmission.

“The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal,” she said.

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. The rules and requirements of departure and destination States should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner. The importance of these measures should continue to be effectively communicated to passengers for their safety, and ECDC will continue to work with our colleagues at EASA to regularly assess and amend the recommendations as necessary.”





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