Low-cost airline Norwegian is the latest airline to abandon its policy of requiring passengers to wear face masks on all flights.
The Oslo-based carrier said in a statement on Friday that travelers could opt out of wearing a face mask on any of its flights for the first time since June 2020, regardless of destination.
Despite being one of the first airlines in the world to relax face mask regulations on domestic and Scandinavian routes last autumn, Norwegian maintained the mask requirement for flights to other European destinations.
Even yet, when the Omicron wave prompted a reassessment and the restoration of pandemic measures in Norway and across Europe, the suspension of mandatory face mask laws was short-lived.
Norwegian dropped its mask mandate on regional routes in February as the Omicron wave subsided, but the regulation remained in force for all other flights throughout Europe. Norwegian will only now make masking an option on all flights.
The airline’s decision was based on “updated instructions across Europe,” according to a representative. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), on the other hand, recommends that passengers and personnel wear a face mask on all flights.
“As countries reduce or completely remove travel restrictions, thanks to extensive vaccination programs, passengers will now be able to choose if they wish to wear a face mask or not,” a spokesperson for Norwegian noted.
Lifting the mandate, according to the airline, will result in an increase in travel demand, similar to what happened when the rule was lifted on regional flights. Norway came out on top in the Bloomberg COVID-19 resilience survey in March thanks to its lax pandemic limitations, lack of travel restrictions, and a large number of vaccinated transit lanes with other nations.
Norwegian has joined British low-cost carrier Jet2 in banning the use of face masks on all of its flights. Other airlines’ guidelines, which had already relaxed face mask regulations, are slightly more convoluted.
Face mask requirements have been relaxed by British Airways, EasyJet, and SWISS on flights to and from destinations where it is evident that a mandate cannot be enforced. A flight from England to Switzerland, for example, would not require a face mask because both nations’ public transportation face mask restrictions have been abolished.
A flight from England or Switzerland to Germany, or vice versa, would, however, necessitate the use of a face mask due to Germany’s ongoing mask mandate.
With the exception of the United States, where the federal face mask regulation takes precedence, TUI Airways’ British branch has eliminated the necessity to wear a face mask on most flights.
Although the Netherlands still requires aircraft passengers to wear a face mask, Dutch flag carrier KLM has informed its personnel to no longer enforce the law.