Aviation officials in Europe are lifting the requirement for masks on flights while noting that face coverings remain one of the best protection against the transmission of COVID-19.
The decision was announced Tuesday in a joint statement from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC.)
The policy change acknowledges the latest developments in the coronavirus pandemic, particularly recent higher vaccination rates, naturally acquired immunity and the lifting of restrictions in a growing number of European countries, officials said.
EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said the new policy aligns with the current requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport. In a statement, he called it a “big step forward in the normalization of air travel.”
“Passengers should, however, behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them,” Mr. Ky said. “A passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”
The new recommendations on the wearing of masks are set to come into effect on May 16, officials said.
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