Do I need a mask to fly? Check carefully as European rules change


Rules for wearing face masks while travelling abroad remain complex for British holidaymakers as EU nations adopt differing approaches. The European Union announced that from Monday (16 May), masks would no longer be required for passengers on flights to many EU countries. The announcement coincided with one from the French health minister, stating that masks will no longer be required on trains, planes and metros in France.

However, major destinations for UK holidaymakers, including Germany, Greece, Italy and Spain, are keeping the mask rule. Italy said passengers are required to wear more-protective FFP2 masks on public transport until 15 June. In Spain, restrictions that came into force in July 2020 were due to be lifted on 15 May, but last Saturday, Spain’s Ministry of the Interior said this was being postponed to midnight on 15 June.

Last week, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) issued an update to the health safety measures for air travel. They dropped the recommendation for mandatory wearing of masks in airports and flights, while noting that a mask is still one of the best protections against the transmission of Covid-19.

“From next week, 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,” said EASA executive director Patrick Ky. “For passengers and aircrews, 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 mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”

However, holidaymakers will still need to check rules for individual countries and airlines as rules continue to vary: Ryanair has dropped the requirement for masks but easyJet says masks are optional on a small number of flights but required in most cases.