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
Health measures are set to be eased for air travel in Europe. (Photo: Eric Piermont / AFP)

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.”

Member comments

  1. Starting to go out without covering my face with a mask and increasingly more and more people are leaving off the mask.

  2. I am just mow not wearing the mask when going out and increasingly more and more people are keeping them off.

  3. I am now not wearing the mask when going out and increasingly more and more people are not wearing them.

  4. I am not covering my face when I go out and increasingly mire and more people are doing the same.

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Thunderstorms, floods and traffic: France’s last holiday weekend in May 

The final holiday weekend of May in France is set to be marked by bad weather and difficult driving conditions on busy roads.

Thunderstorms, floods and traffic: France’s last holiday weekend in May 

Monday, May 20th is a holiday for most of France, marking the Christian festival of Pentecost, which means that many people will enjoy a three-day weekend.

This is the last of four public holidays in France in May 2024, now we need to wait until August for another extra day off work (since the Fête National on July 14th falls on a Sunday this year).

So what can we expect for the long weekend? Well, bad weather and heavy traffic, unfortunately.

The Moselle département, in north-east France, was placed on red weather alert on Friday after hours of heavy rain caused flash flooding.

The red weather alert initially runs until 9pm on Friday, with between 80mm and 100mm of rain expected, while between 70mm and 90mm are predicted in the far north of the neighbouring Bas-Rhin, with up to 70mm expected further south – figures national forecaster Météo-France said approached records for daily rainfall figures in the region.

Orange alerts in the area remain in place on Saturday.

Image: Météo-France

Rain and occasional storms, some bringing hail, are expected to develop across large parts of the country throughout the weekend, with only the Mediterranean areas likely to remain dry on Saturday.

Showers and sunny spells will continue into Sunday and Monday, with occasional thunderstorms in the south-west. Temperatures throughout the weekend should rise to between 15C and 22C.

To make family getaways on the final long weekend of the month even more difficult, roads watchdog Bison Futé predicts ‘difficult’, or ‘very difficult’ travel conditions on key routes across the country. 

Image: Bison Fute

On Friday, traffic is expected to be heavy on routes heading away from major cities towards popular holiday destinations until well into the evening – especially on Paris’s Périphérique and the A86 and A6B, the A7, along the Mediterranean Arc and on the Atlantic seaboard (A11, N165 and A63). 

The A13 is likely to remain closed to traffic between Paris and Vaucresson across the holiday weekend, so drivers from the Paris region wishing to reach Normandy are advised to take the A14, A15 or N12

On Saturday, May 18th, conditions on the roads will be difficult nationwide, particularly on roads serving the Mediterranean arc (A7 and A9) and the Atlantic coast (A63 and N165). In the Île-de-France region, traffic will be heavy from early morning onwards on the A6 and A10. From mid-morning onwards, traffic is expected to intensify significantly. 

Image: Bison Fute

Routes converging on the A10 and A6 could also see traffic problems on Saturday, Bison Futé warned.

No major forecastable traffic problems are expected on Sunday – but, on Monday, May 20th, short breakers will be returning home, leading to heavy traffic across the country, notably on A7 and A9, in the Mediterranean region, and routes serving the west of the country.

Traffic will be heavy on the A10 and A6 in the Île-de-France region from late morning into the evening. The A13, which should be open, could also experience traffic problems from mid-afternoon onwards, and could continue to do so well into the evening.

Across the country banks and public administration offices will close. Some independent shops may close, while larger stores and chains are more likely to be open, but probably with altered opening hours.

Most bars, restaurants and cafés will remain open while public transport will run as normal.