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About Time! Australia's Airport Mask Mandate Ends Tomorrow

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Tom Goward | 16/06/2022

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Travellers and airport staff will be permitted to wander most Australian airports mask-free from midnight on Friday. The change comes in response to advice from top health officials from The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) who recommended that it was no longer necessary to mandate face masks in airports, given rules are now relaxed in almost all other indoor settings.

While this is great news, it’s up to individual states to drop the mandate within their jurisdictions. At the time of writing, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and the ACT have all confirmed that there will be no legal requirement for face masks within airport terminals from midnight, Friday 17 June. Of course, some health officials continue to recommend the use of face coverings where possible.

It’s worth remembering that it will remain mandatory to wear a face mask onboard Australian domestic flights, although airlines are lobbying for this requirement to be axed. Qantas for one has revealed the group plans to update its mask requirements on some of its international flights “soon”, based on health advice of the intended destinations.

“For some outbound international flights where masks are not required at the destination, such as flights to the USA, UK and Europe, this means masks will no longer be mandatory on board,” a Qantas spokesperson said.

To me at least, it makes little sense to enforce masks on aircraft but not within crowded airport terminals. Althoigh tomorrow’s changes will bring travellers one step closer to post-pandemic freedom. Overseas we have seen multiple countries such as the United States and United Kingdom entirely drop the need to wear masks for travel. Many airlines have also followed suit. Hopefully, this proves to be the case down under.

The AHPPC released the following statement On Tuesday:

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has reviewed the current COVID-19 situation in Australia and revised the need for mandated mask wearing in certain settings. 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 AHPPC proposes that mask wearing in airport terminals no longer be mandated from as early as midnight 17 June 2022.

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. 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.

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Tom Goward

Senior Editor and Chief AvGeek at Flight Hacks

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