In a joint statement released today, regarding air travel in the European Union (EU) at a time of lifting restrictions related to Covid-19, the EASA and ECDC indicate that they will “withdraw the recommendation of mandatory use of medical masks at airports and on board a flight”, while remembering that “a face mask remains one of the best protections against transmission” of SARS-CoV-2, namely for the most vulnerable people.

“The update of the Joint Protocol on Aviation Health Safety takes into account the latest developments in the pandemic, in particular the levels of vaccination and naturally acquired immunity and the lifting of restrictions in a growing number of European countries”, justify these EU agencies.

At stake are new recommendations for air travel in the EU on the use of face masks, which should come into force from Monday.

Varying rules

Even so, the rules regarding masks will continue to vary by airline beyond that date, so these European agencies point out that, on flights to or from a destination where the use of masks is still necessary on public transport, it must continue to encourage the use of masks, in line with the recommendations.

Vulnerable passengers must also continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, defend EASA and the ECDC, specifying that, in these cases, an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask must be used, “which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.”

EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky highlights that, “Starting next week, face masks will no longer be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly in line with the new requirements of airlines and national authorities across Europe on public transport”.

“For air passengers and crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel”, says Patrick Ky, however, urging passengers to behave “responsibly and respect the choices of others around them”.

Portugal rules

Currently the rules for mainland Portugal continue to state that masks must be used on public transport.