Travellers could be able to roam within Australian airports mask-free from Friday after the nation’s top health officials recommended ditching one of the few remaining mask mandates.
- AHPPC noted face-covering mandates had been dropped in almost all indoor settings
- States are expected to implement the advice soon
- The AHPPC, however, still recommends the wearing of masks on planes
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) — which comprises all the nation’s state and territory chief health officers — advised on Tuesday that it was no longer necessary to keep forcing travellers and terminal workers to mask up, given face-covering mandates had been dropped in almost all indoor 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,” a statement from the committee said.
Individual states can now drop the mandate as early as Friday, at midnight.
The federal government said it was likely states will implement the advice soon.
“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 government also noted the strong recommendation that Australians continue to wear masks as a key measure to help minimise the spread of COVID-19 and influenza.
The European Union stopped recommending mask-wearing in airports in May.
The loosening of rules will be welcome news for airport bosses in Australia who have been calling for the mandate to be removed.
The AHPPC still recommends the wearing of masks on planes.
Despite the new freedoms in Australia’s travel hubs, the nation’s covid cases continue to rise, with 25,622 cases recorded on Tuesday.
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