Face Masks No Longer Mandatory for European Flights
Starting on 16th May, the European Union no longer will require wearing face masks at airports and on planes. The new recommendations were announced amid the recent tendency to ease Covid-19 restrictions across entire Europe and the relatively successful vaccination rates.
This decision made by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency together with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control is perceived as a big step aiming at the air travel normalization both for passengers and crew members.
Using face masks on a plane still recommended in certain situations
Passengers must remember to behave responsibly. Those who feel more vulnerable may still need to cover their faces. Moreover, a passenger who has Covid-like symptoms, including coughing or sneezing, should wear a face mask to protect others seating nearby. Vulnerable passengers are recommended to use FFP2/N95/KN95 type of face masks, which have a higher protection level than standard surgical masks.
Although the EU announced the recommendation to remove the requirement of wearing the mask, some airlines may apply their own rules. That is why every traveler should be updated on travel requirements applicable to their airline to avoid any issues during the flight.
Despite loosening the Covid-19 restrictions, social distancing and washing hands should still be practiced. Nevertheless, airport operators do not need to impose distancing requirements anymore.
Dropping the social distancing is hoped to speed up the flow of passengers, and facilitate the work of airport agents. It may also help to gradually return to pre-pandemic travel reality.
Passenger Locator Forms
Many European countries have already lifted the requirement to submit personal and travel data through passenger locator forms. Nevertheless, the airlines are recommended to keep tracking the passenger's data so that they could make this data available to public health authorities if such a necessity occurs.
For example, in a situation when a new variant of concern is detected in a given country or territory and it may pose a potential danger.
Traveling across Europe this summer
Europe seems to be more stable than it used to be after the Covid-19 pandemic has begun, at least when we take into account travel. However, we are still far from the traveling level of 2019.
Tourism officials warn all travelers planning to visit Europe this summer that they should still be prepared for some unexpected scenarios. Around 8 in 10 Europeans plan domestic trips between May and September, which means that Europe will be busy this summer.
A number of countries have lifted some covid-related restrictions while some of them even welcome visitors restriction-free trying to return to the pre-pandemic level of travel and boost their tourism sectors after the prolonging lockdown.
Due to the increased number of passengers, European airports have already reported long queues and delays.