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EU lifts mask requirement for air travel as pandemic ebbs

In this May 28, 2020, file photo, a passenger wears personal protective equipment on a Delta Airlines flight after landing in Minneapolis, Minnesota (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
In this May 28, 2020, file photo, a passenger wears personal protective equipment on a Delta Airlines flight after landing in Minneapolis, Minnesota (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

The European Union will no longer require masks to be worn at airports and on planes starting next week amid the easing of coronavirus restrictions across the bloc, authorities say.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency says it hopes the joint decision, made with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, will mark “a big step forward in the normalization of air travel” for passengers and crews.

The new guideline “takes account of the latest developments in the pandemic, in particular the levels of vaccination and naturally acquired immunity, and the accompanying lifting of restrictions in a growing number of European countries,” the two agencies say in a joint statement.

“Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky says. “And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”

While the new recommendations take effect on May 16, rules for masks may still vary by airline beyond that date if they fly to or from destinations where the rules are different.

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