Europe to drop mandate for face masks during air travel next week

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A man pushing a cart is reflected in a mirror as he walks through the corridor at the Frankfurt airport, Germany, March 29, 2021. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

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LONDON, May 11 (Reuters) - Face masks will not have to be worn in airports and on flights in Europe from May 16, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said on Wednesday.

"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.

Italy, France, Bulgaria and other European countries been relaxing or ending many or all of their measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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A number of U.S. airlines said they would no longer require masks in April, after a federal judge in Florida ruled that the U.S. administration's mask mandate on public transport was unlawful. read more

ECDC Director Andrea Ammon said that even though wearing masks would not be mandatory "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."

Rules for wearing masks are expected to vary after the mandatory requirement is lifted, with airlines told to encourage passengers to use masks on flights to or from destinations where wearing a mask on public transport is still required, the agencies said.

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Reporting by Natalie Grover in London; Twitter @NatalieGrover Editing by Catherine Evans

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