Cathay Pacific has lifted masking requirements on its flights at the first opportunity after the Hong Kong government lifted a years-long mask mandate.
In a statement, the airline said it “will respect anyone’s decision to choose whether to wear a mask or not” after the mandate was finally lifted on Wednesday after more than 950 days.
Hong Kong had one of the world’s longest and strictest mask mandates which required people to wear a face mask in nearly all public settings, including outside in the open air.
Despite relaxing border rules late last year, Hong Kong’s government had been reluctant to lift the mask mandate amidst calls from various medical professionals to keep the mandate in force for the foreseeable future.
In the end, the government gave little more than a day’s notice that the mandate would be scrapped – seemingly in response to a similar policy shift from the autonomous region of Macau which is also able to set various policies independently of Beijing.
Although Cathay Pacific is free to enforce its own mandate, the airline has chosen to follow the lead of the Hong Kong government and lift masking rules from March 1.
There will no longer be a need to wear a mask on Cathay Pacific flights or in its airport lounges, although the airline is asking passengers who feel unwell to postpone their travel plans until they are fit and well.
Although Hong Kong seemed like an outlier with its far-reaching mask mandate, there are still a number of countries that require masks onboard public transport and on commercial aircraft.
In February, Spain became the last country in Europe to drop its airplane mask mandate, while Japan will only relax mask recommendations from March 13.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.