It has been a long time coming but from next week, the EU will drop the requirement to wear masks at airports and on flights, according to an announcement Wednesday.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency—in partnership with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control—said in a statement that the recommendation would take effect from 16 May onwards.
However, individual airlines may still enforce mask measures if they are traveling between destinations where the rules are different.
Euronews reported that the statement said it would mark “a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel” for passengers and crews.
The joint statement reported that the new measures “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.”
EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky added that passengers should still continue to make sensible choices during their travels. For instance, if a passenger is coughing and sneezing, they should wear a mask to reassure travelers around them.
These updated health guidelines still make it clear that travelers are safest when wearing masks against contracting Covid-19.
And whilst Passenger Locator Forms, the essential piece of red tape for traveling over the past two years, was no longer necessary across the region, it did recommend that airlines keep traveler information to hand and readily accessible should another variant of Covid-19 emerge and people need to be informed quickly.
Both agencies also added that “it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it (mask wearing) is one of the best methods of reducing transmission.”
The European travel sector will likely respond favorably to the news—with an ever-increasing list of countries which are removing Covid-related travel restrictions across the region.