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HEALTH

Italy set to reopen all airports from June 3rd

All Italian airports will be able to reopen from June 3rd, after some were closed in March amid the country's coronavirus shutdown.

“It will be possible to proceed with the reopening of all airports from June 3rd, when inter-regional and international transfers will again be allowed,” the country's transport minister Paola De Micheli said on Wednesday.

This followed the Italian government's announcement on Saturday that it would allow European Union tourists in from that date and cancel the compulsory quarantine for foreign visitors.

READ ALSO: What are Italy's new rules on international travel?

Italy, the first European country to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, closed some airports, including Milan's Linate airport, as its nationwide quarantine rules were tightened on March 12th.

Other airports could still operate but in a limited way, such as Rome's Fiumicino, Milan's Malpensa and the airports in Bologna, Palermo, Bari, and Turin.

Ciampino airport in Rome and Peretola in Florence, which were closed on March 13, have been allowed to reopen since May 4th.

The troubled Italian airline Alitalia also said on Wednesday that it would increase its flights by 36 percent in June compared with May.

Alitalia said that from June 2nd it would gradually resume its services between Rome and New York, and between Milan and southern Italy, as well as certain flights to Spain. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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