Face masks will no longer be required to be worn on flights or in airports in EU countries beginning next Monday, according to new official guidance.
According to the EU Aviation Safety Agency, the move is in line with changing Covid policies on public transportation throughout Europe (EASA).
In April, some US airlines did the same after a federal judge overturned the government’s mask mandate.
However, the EASA stated that mask regulations “will continue to vary by airline.”
“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,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said.
“It is a relief to all of us that we are finally reaching a stage in the pandemic where we can start to relax the health safety measures,” he added.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), however, issued some cautionary advice with the new guidance.
Although masks would no longer be required, ECDC director Andrea Ammon stated that “together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene, it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission”.
Both EU agencies stated that airlines should encourage passengers to wear masks when arriving or departing from locations where masks are still required for public transportation.
Furthermore, as of 16 May 2022, aircraft operators should continue to encourage their passengers and crew members to wear face masks during pre-flight communications as well as during flight, even when wearing a face mask is not required, said the ECDC.
Some airlines flying to and from the United Kingdom have already removed mask requirements for destinations that do not require them.
According to the new EASA guidelines, Ryanair will no longer require face masks on EU flights beginning next Monday.
EasyJet, the low-cost airline, stated in March that while masks are no longer legally required at both ends of the route, wearing them is a personal choice.
“We welcome this guidance from EASA and the ECDC and continue to urge European governments to have a coordinated approach in removing mask requirements on board aircraft, to make it easy and clear for customers,” an EasyJet spokesperson said.