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.
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.