Europe recommends eliminating the mandatory use of masks on planes and airports

The recommendation will remain in force if you travel to places where this element of protection continues to be mandatory.

Alvaro Soto

The European Union continues to take steps towards the new post-Covid normality. In the new protocol of health security measures for air travel, published this Wednesday, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) recommend the end of the Mandatory use of masks on planes and at airports. However, European organizations do not advocate complete elimination, but instead maintain the request for the use of this protection element for vulnerable passengers, who are advised to use an FPP2, and on flights that take off or land in destinations where its use is still valid for public transport.

The EASA and the ECDC have made this decision, which will come into force as of May 16, after evaluating the latest data on the pandemic, the levels of vaccination on the continent and the immunity acquired by the millions of people infected in recent years. two years. "While the risks remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal," says ECDC Director Andrea Ammon. "For air passengers and crews, this is a huge step forward in normalizing air travel," says EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky.

Even so, both entities remember that it is still one of the most useful protection elements to stop covid-19 infections. “Passengers must behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should seriously consider wearing a face mask, for the peace of mind of those sitting nearby," Ky added.

In any case, the EASA and the ECDC only propose a recommendation that may take time to materialize beyond May 16. The final decision remains in the hands of the States and the airlines. In Spain, since April 20, the mask is no longer mandatory at airports, but it is in public transport, which includes planes. And specifically, the fifth edition of the 'Operational Guidelines for the management of air passengers and aviation personnel in relation to the covid-19 pandemic', published in the BOE in April 2022, is very clear and underlines that masks are mandatory “for all persons aged six and over as established by current health regulations, including passengers, as well as airport and airline personnel in airport infrastructure and on board aircraft.

In addition, the text adds that "passengers who refuse to comply with the established preventive measures must be denied access to the airport terminal building, the aircraft cabin, or must be disembarked", if they refuse to use the mask inside the plane.

Along the same lines, on May 3, just over a week ago, the Ministry of Transport published an order in the BOE in which it insisted that “the use of masks that cover the nose and mouth will be mandatory for all users of the transport by bus, rail, air and sea'. For the moment, companies such as Iberia or Ryanair also maintain the mandatory nature of masks. Only on Norwegian Airlines, from April 4, you can travel without this protection element.

From a health point of view, the European recommendation raises doubts for the experts. “At a time when we are seeing an increase in infections and income, more conservative measures should be proposed,” says Joan Carles March, a professor at the Andalusian School of Public Health, who recalls that an airplane is a place where it is easy to get infected “by the short distance between the seats.

Source link