The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have recommended that the mandatory requirement to wear face masks on aircraft should be dropped from May 16.
However, Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias has confirmed that Spain will not be adopting the policy just yet despite the recommendations on Wednesday by European health and safety experts.
At a press conference by the country’s Interterritorial Health Council, Darias said that the recommendations from the ECDC and EASA on the use of masks both at airports and on flights must be aligned with the current regulations in place for travel via public transport.
It means that travellers flying into and out of Spain must continue to wear face masks on all flights, although the wearing of masks within the airport terminals will no longer be required which has been the case since April 20.
“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,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky.
#EASA and #ECDC have taken the first steps to relax #COVID19 measures for air travelers. While the wearing of face masks will no longer be mandatory it is important to be respectful of others. The full protocol is available here:https://t.co/Oetq26Xd0g pic.twitter.com/eBAvQxIEzp— EASA (@EASA) May 11, 2022
The authority said that the update from the Joint Aviation Health Safety Protocol takes into account the latest developments in the vaccination of citizens and the lifting of travel restrictions across the European Union.
The EASA said that the lifting of the restriction would “help relieve the burden” on the travel industry while only keeping certain appropriate measures in place.
“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. 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.”
Sadly, Spain will continue to enforce the policy as the wearing of masks is still a requirement on public transport at this time.
The EASA statement said, “The new recommendations on the wearing of face masks are set to come into effect from May 16, 2022. However rules for masks in particular will continue to vary by airline beyond that date.
“For example, flights to or from a destination where mask-wearing is still required on public transport should continue to encourage mask wearing, according to the recommendations.”
Those who are considered to be more vulnerable to Covid are advised to continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules. Travellers are also encouraged to continue to observe and maintain social distancing measures as much as possible inside airports.
The EASA confirmed that the wearing of face masks remains one of the best ways of reducing the transmission of the Coronavirus.
ECDC Director Andrea Ammon said: “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.“