Australia's airport mask mandate will soon come to an end

Health officials say the time has passed for masks in airports, inching us closer to pre-pandemic era travel.

By Chris Ashton, June 15 2022
Australia's airport mask mandate will soon come to an end

Travellers and employees may no longer be required to mask up at Australian airports, with a committee of the nation’s top health officials recommending the long-standing mandate be officially dropped at midnight Friday June 17.

However, it will be up to the individual states and territories to then implement the change. Queensland’s Minister for Health Yvette D'Ath has already confirmed the move to end the airport mask requirement, with other state ministers expected to follow suit.

It’s worth reminding though that donning a mask will still be required when you hop on the aircraft, at least for now.

The decision comes as the Australia Health Protection Principal Committee, an advisory group made up of the nation’s top health officials, deemed the mandate was “no longer proportionate”, given masks were optional in almost all public settings.

Introduced in July 2020 amid the second wave, the mask mandate has been a bone of serious contention for travellers and airport employees, particularly as many airlines and airports around the globe have already done away with the requirement.

Instead, it will simply be up to the individual to decide whether or not to wear a mask before they board the flight. 

Masks are still required when onboard the aircraft, at least for now.
Masks are still required when onboard the aircraft, at least for now.

Qantas has confirmed it will soon allow passengers to travel without masks on some international flights, though it has yet to confirm any changes to domestic policy.

Australian Airports Association Chief Executive James Goodwin says: “Travellers are sensible people, so we are pleased that the decision to wear a mask in an airport is now up to them", adding it will free up staff to carry out their roles without the need to monitor mask use.

“Masks have not been required in supermarkets, shopping centres and many other indoor public areas for some time, so this now brings airports in line with those venues and avoids confusion for travellers.”

Mandates will remain in place for public transport, at hospitals or when visiting residential care facilities. 

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Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 367

I recently flew Sydney-Honolulu on QF and in both directions masks were definitely 'at your discretion' after the 1st meal service. Easily half the aircraft in economy didn't put them back on and crew said nothing, and no one made it an issue.

05 Jan 2018

Total posts 47

covid theatre is as bad as airport security theatre

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

15 Jul 2016

Total posts 2

About time!

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 526

About time! However, why would masks still be required on board domestic flights when some international flights will soon no longer require them? That makes no sense whatsoever. Scrap all masking, at least inbound into Australia, to/from destinations that don't require them AND of course domestic.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Nov 2021

Total posts 4

100% agree with you! Should be all or nothing; it’s makes it confusing that you don’t have to wear it in the terminals but still have to on the flight. Plus a lot more people may board without masks. Hopefully they’ll revise masks on flights within a few weeks.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 422

they should have a badge for the medically exempt similar to how the disability industry operates.not everyone can wear a mask for assorted reasons

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 526

Exactly. This "one size fits all" approach is much more becoming of an authoritarian Asian country than a supposedly human rights championing western democracy like Australia.

I know that in many Asian countries, there seem to be no exemptions for those unable to wear masks (or if they exist, airlines/airports don't seem to recognize them) but Australia is supposed to be better than that.


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