Flights and airports in the European Union (EU) will no longer require passengers or employees to wear masks.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) worked with the Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to end the mask mandate. Leaders at both organizations feel the time is right to get air travel back to normal.
The mask requirements will end May 16, though individual airlines will have the freedom to extend their mask policies. If a flight is heading to a location with mask mandates, passengers will have to wear them.
The EASA and ECDC released a statement saying they changed the rules in response to growing vaccination and immunity rates, lifted restrictions in many EU countries, and other pandemic developments.
The ECDC also suggested that airports avoid social distancing requirements if they’d cause bottlenecks.
Patrick Ky, Executive Director of the EASA, pointed out that passengers should still respect the safety decisions of those around them.
The mask mandate’s end is welcome news to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which has long hoped for the easing of airport COVID-19 protocols. A spokesperson suggested that passengers will appreciate making their own decisions.
In contrast to the ECDC, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still advises individuals on public transport to wear masks. However, a federal judge ruled against the mandate in April.