Huge change to Australian travel guidance

A group of Australian health experts has advised that it is no longer necessary for airports to continue with a major Covid-19 measure.

Travellers should no longer have to wear masks at airports, Australia’s top public health decision makers say.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has advised that it is no longer necessary to force travellers and terminal workers to wear masks at airports.

Individual states can now drop the mandate as soon as June 17.

Airport bosses in Australia have long been calling for the mandate to be removed as the nation gets over the coronavirus hump and returns to normal.

“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,” a statement from the committee said.

“We anticipate the travelling public will notice this change in the days following Friday as individual state and territory jurisdictions make the necessary changes to their public health orders,” a joint statement from Health Minister Mark Butler and Transport Minister Catherine King said.

“This changed advice comes after the AHPPC has reviewed the current COVID-19 situation in Australia and considers it no longer proportionate to mandate mask-wearing in the terminals. It has also noted all states and territories have relaxed mask mandates in most community settings.”

The AHPPC still recommends the wearing of masks on planes.

In May, Virgin Australia’s chief Jayne Hrdlicka said she believed the mandate should be removed in the “not so distant future”.

“The reality is that on an aeroplane you‘re as safe as you could be anywhere because of the quality of the infiltration system,” Ms Hrdlicka told 2GB.

“It is just a matter of time before state and federal governments agree we should get rid of masks everywhere.

“You’re safer in an aeroplane than you are in a supermarket.”

Ms Hrdlicka told Ben Fordham the rules should be removed at the same time as those for public transport.

“We need to make sure that everybody feels comfortable doing it so it should be a blanket (rule) across the country, not state by state.

“All the American carriers are now mask free — it’s your choice. Some passengers choose to continue to wear them and some choose not and that’s probably where we’ll land.”

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