Health

Covid, from May 16, stop mask obligation on the plane

No more obligation to wear a mask on the plane from Monday 16 May, according to an update of the safety measures for travel, published by the European Union Agency for Aviation Safety (Easa) and by the European Center for Prevention and Control of diseases (Ecdc). The protection device will no longer be mandatory even in airports, EASA and Ecdc explain, however specifying that “the mask remains one of the best defenses against the transmission of Covid-19”, and that using it is strongly recommended for those who cough or sneeze, as well as for all frail people.

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The revision of the joint EASA-Ecdc protocol takes into account the latest developments of the pandemic, in particular the levels of anti-Covid vaccination and naturally acquired immunity, and the consequent lifting of restrictions in a growing number of European countries. In addition to the new provisions relating to masks, a relaxation of the more stringent measures relating to air operations is also planned.

Even after May 16, however, the rules on the mask will in some respects depend on the airline you are traveling with. In particular, “flights to or from a destination where the use of a mask is still required on public transport – EASA and Ecdc point out in a note – should continue to encourage the use of the device, according to the recommendations”. As for vulnerable passengers, “they should continue to wear a mask regardless of the rules, ideally type Ffp2 / N95 / Kn95, which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.”

“Passengers – Easa and Ecdc point out again – are encouraged to observe the distancing measures in internal areas, even at the airport, where possible”. In this regard, however, airport operators are suggested “a pragmatic approach: for example, they should avoid imposing distancing rules if these will most likely produce a ‘bottleneck’ in another area” or in one of the subsequent steps of the movement. of passengers, “especially if” distance “requirements are not required at national or regional level in other similar contexts”.

Although many states no longer require passengers to complete the digital location form (the dPlf, Digital Passenger Locator Form), “airlines should keep their data collection systems on standby – requires the Easa-Ecdc update – in in order to be able to make this information available to public health authorities if necessary, for example in the case of “emerges for Sars-CoV-2” a new variant of concern (Voc) identified as potentially more dangerous. New Vocs, in fact, are often identified – remember – with varying levels of immune escape capacity and symptom severity “.

“Airport staff, crew members and passengers – conclude Easa and Ecdc – must be vigilant and follow the recommendations and requirements of the national authorities of the state or region in which they are located”.

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