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Passengers Flying With Emirates Will No Longer Have to Wear a Face Mask After UAE Relaxes Pandemic Restrictions

Passengers Flying With Emirates Will No Longer Have to Wear a Face Mask After UAE Relaxes Pandemic Restrictions

Emirates has become the first airline in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and one of only a few airlines in the Gulf region to drop an extensive face mask mandate across nearly all of its flights.

The end of Emirates’ mask mandate actually came into effect ahead of an official relaxation of pandemic-related rules and restrictions across the UAE which won’t be legally lifted until Wednesday.

However, Emirates’ website said passengers were no longer required to wear a face mask on its flights as of 4:05 pm on Tuesday. Confusingly, however, the airline also said that masking requirements would be dictated by local rules at a passengers destination which could mean that some flights will still have a mask mandate in force.

The UAE has had some of the longest-running face mask mandates in the world and nearly all passengers aged six and over were legally required to mask onboard all Emirates flights.

The only legal exception permitted by Emirates was for passengers who could present a signed doctor’s note with a medical exemption, although in reality enforcement had been hit and miss for much of the last two and half years.

Announcing the changes, Dr Saif Al Dhaheri, a spokesperson for the UAE’s National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority said masking would still be compulsory in medical facilities and mosques. A mask mandate will also apply to public transportation but, like in Singapore, airlines are exempted.

“The aviation sector will adopt precautionary measures in line with the national aviation protocol, with airlines to decide whether face masks will be mandatory or optional on airplanes,” Dr Al Dhaheri explained.

On Tuesday evening, Etihad Airways, flydubai and Air Arabia still advised passengers that it was mandatory to wear a face mask on their flights.

Update: Etihad Airways and flydubai have now dropped face mask rules on the majority of flights.

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