EU lifts mask recommendation for air travel as pandemic ebbs

May 10, 2022, 2:54 PM | Updated: May 11, 2022, 9:51 am
FILE - In this May 28, 2020, file photo, a passenger wears personal protective equipment on a Delta...

FILE - In this May 28, 2020, file photo, a passenger wears personal protective equipment on a Delta Airlines flight after landing in Minneapolis, United States of America. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency said Wednesday that from next week onward it is no longer recommending the use of medical masks at airports and on planes due to the coronavirus. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

BERLIN (AP) — The European Union will no longer recommend medical masks be worn at airports and on planes starting next week amid the easing of coronavirus restrictions across the bloc, though member states can still require them, officials said Wednesday.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency said it hoped the joint decision, made with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, would mark “a big step forward in the normalization of air travel” for passengers and crews.

The new guideline “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,” the two agencies said in a joint statement.

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

While the new recommendations take effect on May 16, rules for masks may still vary by airline beyond that date if they fly to or from destinations where the rules are different.

Germany’s Health Ministry said it will continue to require all passengers over the age of 6 to wear medical masks on flights to, from or within the country, though they can be removed during meals.

Last week, German carrier Lufthansa denied a large group of Jewish travelers board a plane because some had refused to wear masks. The airline has since apologized for the incident.

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control director Andrea Ammon said washing hands and social distancing should still be practiced, but airport operators are advised not to impose distancing requirements if these are likely to lead to a bottleneck.

The agencies also recommended that airlines keep systems for collecting passenger locator information on standby in case they are needed in future, for example if a new dangerous variant emerges.

Airlines welcomed the change in guidance and called for a consistent approach to mask mandates.

“We believe that mask requirements on board aircraft should end when masks are no longer mandated in other parts of daily life, for example theaters, offices or on public transport,” said Willie Walsh, director-general of the International Air Transport Association.

The decline in reported COVID-19 cases over the past weeks has prompted countries across Europe to roll back pandemic-related restrictions.

Germany said Wednesday that it was disbanding a crisis task force appointed to lead the official response.

And the French government announced separately Wednesday that people will no longer have to wear facemasks in any forms of public transport starting from Monday.

Health Minister Olivier Veran, speaking after a Cabinet meeting, said that the decision is part of policies to lift most restrictions as the pandemic is slowing down in the country.

French authorities reported this week about 39,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 each day on average, down by 30% compared to last week. The numbers of patients in hospitals have also been steadily decreasing in recent weeks.

Wearing facemasks will no longer be needed in metros, bus, trains and domestic flights. It is still be requested in hospitals and nursing homes, Veran said.

France lifted most coronavirus restrictions in March.

___

Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report.

___

Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Blackbaud, Acuity Brands rise; AXT, KalVista fall

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks that traded heavily or had substantial price changes Tuesday: Blackbaud Inc., up $8.12 to $53.13. Clearlake Capital disclosed an 18.4% stake in the software and services provider focused on the nonprofit sector. Poshmark Inc., up $2.04 to $17.61. The online marketplace for second-hand goods is being bought by Naver. AXT […]
14 hours ago
FILE - Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signs a bill in Oklahoma City on March 30, 2022, that prevents tra...
Associated Press

Oklahoma governor urges action on anti-transgender medicine

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill Tuesday targeting medical treatments for transgender youth and called on the GOP-controlled Legislature to impose a statewide ban when it returns in February. The bill signed by the first-term Republican, who is up for reelection next month, authorizes more than $108 million in federal […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Lawyer: Trump ‘eager’ for deposition in rape accuser case

NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer for ex-President Donald Trump said Tuesday that her client is “ready and eager” to sit for a deposition in the defamation case of a woman who says he raped her in the 1990s, but she’s nevertheless asking that it be postponed. Attorney Alina Habba wrote to a Manhattan federal […]
14 hours ago
Attorneys of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, Phillip Linder, left, and James Lee Bright, arrive...
Associated Press

Oath Keepers founder: Be ‘ready to fight’ after Trump loss

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hours after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election, the leader of the Oath Keepers extremist group was discussing how to push President Donald Trump to go further in his fight to cling to power, according to messages shown to jurors Tuesday in his U.S. Capitol attack trial. […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Man charged with damaging Scott Joplin House

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A man was charged Tuesday with breaking into the historic home of ragtime composer Scott Joplin and causing tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. Thirty-eight-year-old Kevin Daley-Bey faces one count each of second-degree burglary and first-degree property damage. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. Police […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

UN envoy: Iraq is `highly volatile’ and leaders must talk

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. special envoy for Iraq warned Tuesday that the situation in the country remains “highly volatile” nearly a year after last October’s elections failed to form a government, saying all sides have made “strategic mistakes” and it’s now time for all Iraqi leaders to hold talks “and pull the country […]
14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
EU lifts mask recommendation for air travel as pandemic ebbs