When the European Union announced wearing face masks would no longer be recommended on flights from May 16, many hoped all nations within the bloc would fall in line and promptly lift the requirement. While most followed the EU directive, that has not been the case with Spain and Italy, two countries that will be keeping the mandate in place for longer.
Having faced a devastating outbreak earlier in the pandemic, and famously become the first European nation to be overwhelmed by cases, Italy has grown increasingly cautious in managing the crisis.
Throughout most of 2020 and 2021, it kept travel bans in place for several nationalities, while resorting to other measures like lockdowns and health passes, which kept most visitors out.
Spain is no different, having recently refused to join the ranks of European countries fully scrapping all entry requirements for foreign tourists ahead of summer.
Even though most draconian restrictions have since been rescinded, both countries’ more conservative stance on face masks is not changing anytime soon:
Face Masks Still Needed On Flights, Public Transport In Spain And Italy After May 16
After the EU issued a new directive encouraging participating countries to remove face masks on flights and all other forms of public transport starting May 16, the Italian Government was quick to reiterate the mandate will remain in place across Italy for much longer, or until June 15th.
Similarly, Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias confirmed Spain will not be scrapping masks on flights after this week. In justifying Spain’s decision to extend the requirement, Darias suggested measures should be eased more gradually and that Spain will ‘advance with caution and proportionality’, as it has until now.
Very much like Italy, Spain has rolled back most restrictions in recent months, though relaxation efforts have mostly benefited vaccinated travelers. For now, unvaccinated visitors still face stricter rules when flying to both Italy and Spain, and the two Mediterranean nations have been known to align on Covid strategies.
Even though masks have no longer been required in most indoor spaces across Spain since April, Darias has asserted that masks in this context, namely flights and public transport, remain mandatory. Italian health authorities share the same view, further isolating both countries from what is becoming a much less rigid EU.
EU Recommendation On Face Masks Inflight Is In Fact Nonbinding
While the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) both agree it is now time to lift the mask requirement, this is a nonbinding decision.
The European Union as a whole may favor a harmonization of rules, but national regulations still take precedence over EU-wide recommendations.
For that reason, the two destinations in question have been able to extend the mask mandates, even though others like France swiftly followed the advice and eliminated mask usage on flights. Despite having been effectively shunned by the Mediterranean nations, the EASA/ECDC have defended their right to assess their own health risks.
In a joint statement, they reiterated ‘wearing face masks at airports and inflight should be aligned with national measures on wearing masks in public transport and transport hubs’. For now, Spain and Italy have chosen to prolong the mask requirement on public transport, thus being supported by the EASA/ECDC in keeping the mandate in place for air travelers.
A New Patchwork Of Mask Rules In The EU?
As the EASA and ECDC quoted in their statement, ‘if either the departure or destination States require the wearing of face masks on public transport, aircraft operators should require passengers and crew to comply with those requirements inflight, beyond 16 May 2022‘.
The measure could lead to more confusion in the upcoming weeks, as different EU countries may either choose to follow France’s lead, or Italy and Spain’s. Adding to the complexity of it all, in order for passengers to indeed be able to remove masks, the requirement must have been lifted on both the departure country and their destination country.
For example, although France no longer requires masks inflight as of May 16, those flying from Paris to Madrid – or any other destination in Spain – will still need to wear face coverings. There may be other stricter mask requirements in place in specific destinations, including Italy, where only higher-grade FFP2 masks are accepted.
Additionally, they will remain mandatory in cinemas, theaters, and several other indoor venues until at least June 15th. In sum, travelers should continue double-checking local mask requirements for individual EU countries.
Travel Insurance That Covers Covid-19 For 2022
Serbia And Kosovo Are The Latest European Countries To Remove All Entry Requirements
Travelers May Need Proof of €100 Spending Money Per Day In Spain And France
U.S. Travelers Will Save On EU Trips As The Dollar And Euro Almost Hit Par
Travelers Will Have To Pay A New Fee to Enter Europe in 2023
Traveler Alert: Don’t Forget Travel Insurance For Your Next Trip!
↓ Join Our Community ↓
The Travel Off Path Community FB group has all the latest reopening news, conversations, and Q&A’s happening daily!
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR LATEST POSTS
Enter your email address to subscribe to Travel Off Path’s latest breaking travel news, straight to your inbox.
This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Tuesday 17th of May 2022
Irrational fear and blind obedience appears to be limitless within the human condition. It appears we will stay permanently within the Covid "Twilight Zone".
May God help us.
Monday 16th of May 2022
Medical tyranny knows no bounds.
Silvia Von lindemann
Monday 16th of May 2022
Don't travel to those countries with those requirements.theres no need for any masks at all they will not protect you from any virus.peopke should stopiving 8n fear.theres no danger.never was
Monday 16th of May 2022
There are 27 EU nations. Only 12 of them have lifted their mask mandates on public transportation, which means that 15 have NOT, which is still the majority. Amongst those are not just Italy and Spain but also big countries like Germany (they announced that the mask mandate on public transportation will remain in place until at least September 23 (!!!!)), and it is very unlikely that it will be scrapped just when fall hits.
Unfortunately, Austria, my own country, is among the conservative nations, we will have the masks on public transportation as well as in all essential shops likes supermarkets at least till July 8. And I don't think that they will suspend that rule aferwards as it is backed by the majority of the population. Was just in Spain, at least 70% of the people are still wearing masks in supermarkets although no longer required. People are still anxious after having been told to be cautious for over 2 years now - a shame. On the other hand, Austria is easier than Spain or Italy (or Germany) with entry requirements - as from today they are all gone....
Finally, Europe is still confusing and a bit of a mess, the easiest countries to go to are definitely the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, the Netherlands and most Eastern European countries, as all regulations have expired there regarding entry and internal restrictions.
Tuesday 17th of May 2022
@Stephan, People should stop relying on TV news for reliable infectious diseases information. They have been brainwashed. Look at Asia - even if they lifted all covid restrictions, people would still wear face masks and jab themselves at home. Can't fix stupidity.