EU to drop mask mandate for flights

The European Union (EU) is set to drop its mask mandate for air travellers.

The bloc will no longer require passengers to wear face coverings at airports or on planes, according to a joint statement by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

The rules will change on 16 May.

However, individual airlines may continue to enforce their own rules beyond that – for example if a destination they’re flying to still legally requires mask-wearing.

The new guidance “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,” said the ECDC and EASA.

“Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them,” added EASA executive director Patrick Ky. “And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”

Each EU country is at liberty to choose its own measures, with 15 member states still insisting masks be worn on public transport.

Ryanair, Europe’s biggest low-cost carrier, has already announced face masks will no longer be mandatory on its flights, other than those to or from countries that continue to have mask mandates in place.

Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain all require passengers to wear coverings on public transport.

Ryanair’s CEO Eddie Wilson said: “We welcome this rule relaxation from EASA and the ECDC effective from Monday, 16 May. From that date, face masks will be optional on all Ryanair flights except those flights to/from the 15 EU States where masks remain mandatory on public transport.

“We expect these States to relax their face mask rules over the coming days in line with these new health guidelines from EASA and the ECDC.”

Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.