The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have updated their Aviation Health Safety Protocol to advise that wear mask wearing is no longer mandatory on public transport, this also needs to be the case at airports and on-board aircraft.
The Aviation Health Safety Protocol, advises European States and industry on the progressive de-escalation of protective measures aimed at limiting the risk of COVID-19 infection during air travel. Reflecting the evolution of the epidemiological situation and risks as well as the latest scientific evidence, the updated guidance also removes the requirement to ensure physical distancing within terminals and other airport areas. In addition, it removes access restrictions to airport terminals, therefore allowing passengers and all other visitors to enter and use the range of services there.
Where health checks and testing requirements remain in place, the guidance advises that States should implement ‘One Stop’ arrangements to avoid duplication between departure, transit and arrival processes.
Airports Council International (ACI) Europe’s Director General, Olivier Jankovec, welcomed the updated guidance saying: “Over the past two years, the EASA-ECDC Aviation Health Safety Protocol has been essential to ensure risk-based and uniform COVID-19 protective measures for air travel across Europe. This remains the case with today’s update, with guidelines that continue to be effective, proportionate, and practical – and which reflect the fact that an increasing number of States no longer mandate wearing face masks nor social distancing for travel.”
He also noted that with the summer season set to be a busy one, the new guidance marks another step in the safe recovery of European aviation and it will make the travel experience much more pleasant, while keeping passengers and staff safe.
Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA’s) Director General, Willie Walsh commented that “Travellers can look forward to freedom of choice on whether to wear a mask. And they can travel with confidence knowing that many features of the aircraft cabin, such as high frequency air exchange and high efficiency filters, make it one of the safest indoor environments.”