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Australia Drops Face Mask Mandate in Airports But Will Still Make Passengers Wear Them On Planes

Australia Drops Face Mask Mandate in Airports But Will Still Make Passengers Wear Them On Planes

Australia plans to drop its airport face mask mandate from June 17, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee has announced, but there are still no plans to ease masking regulations once passengers get on board a plane.

In a statement, AHPPC said it came to the conclusion that mask regulations could be eased in airport terminal buildings after comparing the setting to other public indoor venues where masking hasn’t been required for months.

“The AHPPC notes that all states and territories have relaxed mask mandates in most settings within the community and considers that it is no longer proportionate to mandate mask use in airport terminals,” the committee said on Tuesday.

Mask mandates can be lifted from Friday but it will be up to individual states and even airports to ease masking rules. The decision comes a week after Canberra airport threatened to sue the Australian Capital Territory for its human rights breaking mask mandate.

Airport chief executive Stephen Byron had called airport masking rules “discrimination with no legal basis”.

“There’s no health basis, there’s no data or evidence that requires this, everyone knows and agrees that,” Byron said of the mask mandate.

The AHPCC urged passengers to continue wearing a face mask even if they aren’t mandated to wear one.

“The AHPPC continues to recognise the role of masks, along with other public health measures, in minimising COVID-19 and influenza transmission and protecting the broader community, including those who are unable to get vaccinated and people who have a higher risk of developing severe illness,” a statement from the committee explained.

“In light of this, the AHPPC continues to strongly recommend continued mask wearing in airport terminals and other indoor settings, especially where physical distancing is not possible.”

There are still no plans to drop face mask rules for airline passengers once they board an aircraft. In Australia, aircraft masking rules apply to passengers aged 12 and over.

Australia flag carrier Qantas says the next step should be to drop inflight mask mandates and the airline plans to make masking optional on international flights to destinations where mask rules have already been eased, like the UK and the United States.

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