Covid: Italy confirms mask mandate on planes until 15 June

EU to lift mask mandate on planes from 16 May.

The Italian government on Wednesday confirmed that its mask mandate on airplanes will remain in place until 15 June following news that the EU will no longer oblige air travellers to wear masks from 16 May.

Under the new guidelines, the EU will end its obligation to wear masks in airports and on planes from Monday amid the easing of covid restrictions across the bloc.

Although the new EU recommendations take effect on 16 May, masks can still be required on planes by member states and mask-wearing rules may still vary from airline to airline.

The Italian health ministry moved to clarify its rules in the wake of the news, stressing that FFP2 masks would continue to be required on planes in Italy until 15 June, reports Corriere della Sera.

In a joint statement issued on 11 May, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said the decision took account of "the latest developments in the pandemic, in particular the levels of vaccination and naturally acquired immunity, and the accompanying lifting of restrictions in a growing number of European countries."

The move would mark “a big step forward in the normalization of air travel" for passengers and crews, said EASA executive director Patrick Ky.

"Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them" - said Ky - "And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby."

In Italy however FFP2 masks must be worn until 15 June on all local and long-distance public transport - including buses, trams, subways, regional trains, high-speed trains, ferries and planes.

In addition to public transport, masks must continue to be worn until 15 June in Italy's cinemas and theatres, hospitals and care homes, indoor sporting events and concerts, schools and universities.