Face masks to be mandatory on all domestic flights

New health measures will also see pre-flight testing for all international arrivals.

By David Flynn, January 8 2021
Face masks to be mandatory on all domestic flights

Passengers on all domestic flights will have to wear a face mask and international arrivals will be subject to pre-flight testing as Australia tightens its health protocols to stamp out the latest wave of infections and guard against new variants of COVID-19.

The moves follow heightened concerns over emerging mutated strains of COVID-19 which are far more transmissible than their parent.

Two new coronavirus strains recently detected in the UK and South Africa have now found their way to Australia and been reported among travellers in hotel quarantine in Sydney and Brisbane.

"For domestic travel, mask wearing will be mandatory on all domestic flights for all persons in Australia, excluding children 12 and under, and those with other accepted exemptions," Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed after today's National Cabinet meeting.

"As an additional preventative measure to prevent spread, mask wearing will be mandatory in all domestic airports within Australia."

"These measures, over the course of the next week, and the compliance arrangements that sit around that, will be put in place by the Commonwealth and the state governments."

Masks compulsory on all domestic flights

Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia already distribute face masks prior to boarding and have them available onboard.

However, wearing those masks has to date been "strongly encouraged" rather than compulsory, with the exception of flights to, from and within Victoria and New South Wales following outbreaks in those states.

This Fly Well pack is already distributed on all Qantas and Jetstar flights.
This Fly Well pack is already distributed on all Qantas and Jetstar flights.

That's likely to change as early as this weekend. Exceptions will be made for travellers with a relevant medical condition as well as children under 12, although parents will be encouraged to have their youngsters mask up.

All passengers are required to follow any "reasonable directions" of a crew member under the airlines' standard 'conditions of carriage'.

Refusal to do so, which in this case means wearing a mask, will see that passenger removed from the flight and potentially put on a 'no fly' list banning them from the airline, in addition to whatever other state or federal government penalties may apply.

Face masks at airport lounges

Morrison said that under the new rules, "all individuals within Australian airport environments must wear masks."

This appears to clarify the issue of wearing masks at airport lounges, which to date have varied from state to state because airlines consider their lounges as hospitality venues similar to cafes and bars, which fall under state regulations.

In NSW, the staff at such facilities are required to wear a mask, but not customers.

But in Victoria it's mandatory to wear a face mask in any public indoor setting "except while eating or drinking".

In addition to revising their food and drink service along 'COVID-safe' lines, Qantas and Virgin Australia have reconfigured their airport lounges to comply with state regulations regarding capacity.

Also read: Pre-flight COVID test required for all flights to Australia

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

18 Jan 2017

Total posts 53

Shouldn't the title be "Face masks to be mandatory on all domestic flights" ?

Surely REX, Air North etc aren't excluded?

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 489

That's what the title says and I didn't read anything to suggest that any airline would be exempt. If you want to fly, you have to mask up now, except exempt categories and children.

18 Jan 2017

Total posts 53

The tite has since be changed after my comment.  It was originally "Face masks to be mandatory on Qantasm, Virgin Australia and Jetstar"

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 478

Dunno how they gonna enforce this on foreign flagged carriers over Australian airspace but I thought they said all flights both international and domestic, mask wearing will be mandatory 

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 489

Foreign carriers have already made mask wearing mandatory since April 2020. Some of the strictest are the Middle Eastern airlines like Qatar, where, in addition to a face mask a shield is also compulsory! In Qatar itself, if you don't wear a face mask (or have their contact tracing app installed) you face 3 YEARS in prison!

And all airlines flying to/from Australia would comply with all government directives anyway, no matter how unreasonable they are.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 489

Just the other day I predicted that face masks would be made compulsory across all domestic flights and also at airports. I've been proven right, yet again. However, I did not expect it to happen so quickly. I thought it would take several more weeks or even months.

Anyway, this makes Australia one of the last countries in the world to impose a mask mandate on board flights. Most Asian carriers stopped flying during the April lockdown, but by the time flights resumed in May, face masks became mandatory. They were also made compulsory in China, starting in April, which is when flights resumed in that country. Japan was one of the last Asian countries to make them compulsory, but even they followed suit about a month later. International flights generally already compelled passengers to wear masks in flight starting in April, except on routes to/from the USA, where this only started happening in May. Also during that month, more and more domestic carriers started introducing mask mandates. By June, all North American flights were covered. Ditto for Europe and Latin America.

Qantas and all other airlines flying to/from Australia required masks to be worn in-flight on international services as early as April last year. However, this mandate didn't cover domestic flights or airports, except in the international zone after immigration.

Then came Victoria's mask mandate in July and New Zealand's mask mandate on board domestic flights in October, which didn't seem to be enforced properly until December. Finally, NSW and now the whole country.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 478

 Two new coronavirus strains recently detected in the UK and South Africa have now found their way to Australia and been reported among travellers in hotel quarantine in Sydney and Brisbane.”

Actually the UK strain has also been detected in hotel quarantine in Melbourne and Perth in returned travellers last few days

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 228

and Adelaide

08 Jan 2021

Total posts 1

The article does not include specifics such as what happens for eating or drinking on the plane, how can this be done without removing the mask, or are you now not allowed to eat or drink on the plane too?

To remove the mask to eat or drink you need to touch it with your hands which there is a high probability that you have touched other surfaces on the way into the plane and in the plane which other people have touched. 

If you are allowed to remove the mask to eat and drink, how long for, or is there no time restriction. All a bit fuzzy to me.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 489

The same rules will apply as internationally and as for NSW/Victorian flights.

If food is allowed to be served, you can take your mask off during meal service. However, flight attendants will let you know when you have to put it back on. There is probably no specific time restriction as such, but if you're still clutching a cup of tea one hour after meal service has ended you might start getting some attention.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1398

Merlin you are meant to fit and remove the mask by the loops and avoid touching it at all. Likewise when washing it.

16 Nov 2018

Total posts 31

Will anti-mask be dragged off the plane?

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 489

As in America? Wouldn't surprise me...however, have we seen any such actions take place in Australia since masks were made compulsory on Victorian flights in July? That will answer your question.

16 Nov 2018

Total posts 31

Can't wait to see some Karen-drama happening onboard. That would be funny.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 489

Maybe it already has. Masks have been mandatory on Victorian flights since late July. I can't imagine there to be a sudden uptick in drama in the rest of the country. Also, NSW mandated face masks a few days ago.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 453

Someone who refuses to wear a mark will never make it to the plane anyway, as masks are mandatory in airports now.

30 May 2014

Total posts 4

So when a Covid Carrier wants a drink it's "mask-off" and everybody is at risk. QUANTAS mgmt want all pax jabbed before flying but jabs not fully perfect so the carrier (not QF) can still effect others.

Answer? No food or drink.

That will please QUANTAS mgmt to sack more staff

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 453

You can't ban eating and drinking on flights, especially long haul ones.  There is no 100% perfect way to protect people from catching the disease - it is a multi-layered approach, with each layer adding more protection. If you're scared of catching Covid by flying, then don't fly. Or leave your house, really.

And it's QANTAS - there's no U in the name.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 489

John, true, but they can ban eating and drinking on short haul flights as they see fit, and has been done before. In Thailand, they recently banned it again, although none of their domestic flights are longer than 2 hours and several have been suspended again. The ban won't last forever, but it will likely be in place for several weeks.

30 May 2014

Total posts 4

Another thought.... TOILETS?

Will they be sanitised after every visit?

Who will make sure pax in toilets keep their masks on?

Children?

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 489

Yes that's getting a bit Orwellian. I doubt they could enforce the wearing of a mask in the toilet. However, unless you spend a good amount of time in there, taking it off for those two minutes won't make a big difference. You'll get to breathe some "fresh" air (LOL) but as soon as you open the door you're supposed to have the mask back on.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2548

Let's keep comments on the topic of mandatory face masks for domestic flights, not discussing politics or spreading nonsense about COVID-19 not being serious: keep that for your own Facebook pages, Twitter feeds etc,

Rc
Rc

19 Oct 2019

Total posts 3

Finally, Very welcome that Masks are compulsory 

Mask work , they reduce disease spread

They should also be compulsory on Buses and trains

As a Dentist I have been wearing Masks for 30 years because I care about my Patients

Australians have done a great job following the health advice 

only 6 months to go and the vaccines will have Covid under control

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 489

They already ARE compulsory on buses and trains in some states. Victoria since July 23. NSW since the start of the year. Adelaide? Unclear, but apparently they were made mandatory back in November but not sure if that stuck. Brisbane now too, at least temporarily, but I think it will stay.

QFP

22 Jan 2013

Total posts 82

Great move to make masks mandatory on all flights. 

why is it great ?

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 489

It's not great. It's simply a fact that most average people seem to be in love with authoritarian dictates because it makes them feel safer even if there's no real science to support any of this. I won't go into that here though.

My point is (as I've shown on my numerous comments so far) that Australia has been surprisingly slow to mandate masks on board flights and airports across the board, when this started happening all around the world as of April/May last year. It's also ironic in that the first airline to talk up a vaccine mandate to fly with them is actually one of the very last in the world to mandate masks across it's domestic network [Qantas].

Mandatory mask wearing to board a flight has been a reality, even in the USA since at least May 2020.

It's also ironic that one of only two governments in the world that mandate bicycle helmets for adults [Australia; the other country being New Zealand] and one of the first to talk about possibly requiring a Covid vaccine to enter the country, didn't mandate masks on a national level on day one back in late March or early April (as China and many Asian countries did). I thought Australia was a nanny state? Again, I'm very surprised!

Now they're definitely playing catch up, so before you know it, masks will be mandated in all indoor venues throughout the entire country as Victoria has done, then greater Sydney and now Brisbane.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 453

The reason is that masks add only limited protection from catching the disease. They are more effective, however, at reducing the likelihood of an infected person spreading their germs.

Unfortunately a lot of people seem to think a mask is like "a shield of steel" and then ignore all other, more effective, forms of protection, such as social distancing and hand washing.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 339

It's great because this is one less vector for infection to spread. Pretty straight-forward, you'd think.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jun 2018

Total posts 14

The negligence of the federal government in not testing people before getting on an international flight now means all Australians have to pay..

If wearing a mask on a domestic flight guaranteed you would be exempt from being a close contact of a confirmed case on a domestic flight there might be some benefit but I am sure that will not be the case.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 489

@Steladon, I don't think that has anything to do with this mask law. Australia is simply falling in line with the rules that apply internationally. As I've been saying, I am actually quite surprised that it's taken this long for the airlines to follow the norms established since April/May of 2020 in most of the rest of the world. I don't think it will do anything much, but the point I'm making is about the legislative nature of this decision.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1398

Stela don it won’t exempt you from being a close contact but it will reduce you chance of spreading the bug if you unbeknownst to you have it on the plane.

GoRobin Banned
GoRobin Banned

07 May 2020

Total posts 151

So when I show my Covid Vax Certificate I presume that I will be exempt from having to wear a mask on flights?

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 339

No, because face masks are also to stop people spreading COVID and there's still no evidence that the vaccines will stop people from becoming 'asymptomatic carriers', in other words the virus will be in their system but they won't get sick from it but could still pass it on to others. The companies behind the vaccines all admit this and say more testing will be needed to determine the efficacy of the vaccines in this regard.

GoRobin Banned
GoRobin Banned

07 May 2020

Total posts 151

QFPI...so really my Covid Vax Certificate is of not much use. Mask wearing, social distancing, mandatory quarantine, PCE testing  etc etc are still going to be the norm for a long time. That being the case, the travel industry and most who work around it will remain unemployed for a long time too. 

gorobin

long time ? Week ? Month ?

Currently all international borders e xAustralia are opening 18 March 2020. No mention yet of this date being delayed & don't think they should be. Stuff all cases & virtually no covid deaths for months. NZ should be open now, along with Fiji & Pac islands.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 489

@Regular flyer, I wish you were right, but I have my doubts that borders will spontaneously reopen on March 18, particularly since Australia has been more conservative in many ways than lots of Asian countries even (notably Singapore). Malaysia won't reopen until at least April 1, Thailand has mulled a possible early to mid April limited reopening, while Vietnam said probably not until 2022.

I don't see a return to some semblance of normality happening until at least the second half of the year. Besides, British Airways has already said it won't be returning to Bangkok or Sydney until October, so that gives you an idea.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1398

Regular is this another of your (accurate) predictions. We shall see if it is in line with your earlier predictions of the same last year.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 339

There's a lot of uncertainty right now about vaccination certificates because they're not yet in use, Australia hasn't even started its vaccination roll-out and when it does the first few months will be mainly for people who are not about to jump on to an overseas flight, so it's very premature to start worrying and complaining about all this. That said I do think some vaccination certificate will be mandatory for travel to some countries without quarantine. As to "mask wearing, social distancing, mandatory quarantine, PCE testing  etc etc are still going to be the norm for a long time," well they will to some extent but not all at once, eg you won't need to worry about quarantine flying to or from a 'travel bubble' country. The degree to which we see "mask wearing, social distancing, mandatory quarantine, PCE testing  etc etc" will depend on the scenario, eg local or overseas shopping centres, concerts and movies and sporting events, not just flights.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 489

@QFP1, it's possible that vaccines OR testing (more likely testing in the short to medium term) will be an entry requirement for the foreseeable future, though not necessarily indefinitely. I don't think a rollout to all the places you've mentioned will go down without mass opposition.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 489

Mask wearing and signing in/out of public places, yes, that will continue both in Australia and overseas for some time to come. I was referring to the use of a vaccine passport to enter public places. That I don't see happening. There would be riots on the streets.

GoRobin Banned
GoRobin Banned

07 May 2020

Total posts 151

I guess it is safe to assume that mandatory 14 quarantine for ALL incoming travellers to Australia regardless of their vaccination status will determine if and when international travel could possibly take off again. I have been saying this for many months now and in my opinion international travel to and from Australia will be severely restricted for at least another 12 months. The travel and hospitality industry in Australia will need to brace themselves for this most likely eventuality. My business included.

gorobin

12 months ? Won't be many travel businesses/airlines left if that's the case.

Why doesn't everyone stop pulling these wild guesses out of their bum.

Qantas says 1 July, other airlines say April. NZ bubble supposed to be this month.

Kiwis can already fly to OZ without any stupid quarantine.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 339

"Kiwis can already fly to OZ without any stupid quarantine." well besides the fact this "stupid quarantine" has doubtless stopped Australia from becoming like the USA or the UK and so far is containing any of the mutated strains, the facts are that Kiwis are allowed only into some AU states, Kiwis can travel there because NZ has basically eliminated COVID so there's no risk to people in those states, but on their return home Kiwis have to quarantine for 14 days to ensure they don't bring back to NZ any COVID they might have picked up from those AU states. So it's far from as simplistic as you make out and it all makes good sense. 

GoRobin Banned
GoRobin Banned

07 May 2020

Total posts 151

Regular flyer....yes indeed there is a lot of wild speculation about when international travel to Australia will resume. But the key driver is government policy. The bottom line will be when federal and state governments guarantee that your Covid Vax Certificate exempts you from the mandatory 14 day quarantine on return. So far these governments have been deliberately dodging this fundamental question.

no one knows if 18 March 2021 opening of borders will remain. No one but that's over 2 months away. It has nothing to do with health & all to do with politics.

GoRobin Banned
GoRobin Banned

07 May 2020

Total posts 151

By the way. The 18th March 2021 date is just the day when the federal legislation regarding departing travellers is automatically repealed. That piece of legislation was put in place for 12 months. However, it doesn't mean that the federal government won't extend it, nor does it give the green light for international travel to take off. International travel activity is determined mostly by demand, and whilst mandatory 14 quarantine is most likely going to continue for 2021, there will be very few flights coming to Australia. And of course, masks on flights too will be mandatory during that period, however long it may be.

My business depends upon international travel to and from Australia, and whilst I would like to believe in saviours, I also do have to consider commercial reality. Given current federal and state behaviours I can't see any positive changes coming in 2021 regarding easing of mandatory quarantine even when the experimental vaccines are rolled out. Maybe sometime in 2022. 

date was extended 3 or 4 weeks ago I think it was to 17 March(no travel before then) but with exception of NZ bubble, which should also inc some pacific islands. 

You & no one has any idea when quarantine will end. Why do you keep making up this stuff ? You must be bored.

GoRobin Banned
GoRobin Banned

07 May 2020

Total posts 151

Yes Frequent Flyer....I have no idea when the mandatory quarantine will end. Even if I show a Covid Vax Certificate it will not exempt me from wearing a mask or from quarantine. The point I am coming to is that I don't see any reason to inject myself with an experimental agent if it doesn't change anything. I will of course still be wearing a mask on domestic flights.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 489

@GoRobin, I couldn't agree with you more! I certainly will be one of the last people to subject myself to an experimental vaccine, if it ever came to that.

GoRobin Banned
GoRobin Banned

07 May 2020

Total posts 151

Yeah FreqFlyer. Why inject yourself with an unproven and experimental agent if the government won't even guarantee you exemption from mask wearing and compulsory quarantine. Even the government does not have confidence in these experimental agents. If they did they would have no problem to guarantee exemptions. It all seems to me like a big experiment and decisions will come at some undetermined time in the future when it suits them. So my business is history. And many professional pilots will never again fly.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 489

Indeed it is. It's insanity on so many levels. As you say, if it doesn't end mask wearing and quarantines, what's the point?

My uncle was a long haul pilot working for a major European airline. His major ports of call included Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Bangkok, Singapore, Mumbai, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Chicago, Toronto and Montreal.  Fortunately he was given the golden handshake several years back. If he were younger he'd probably have been forced to call it quits by now.

I have several friends who were working as flight attendants or ground staff for various airlines including Jetstar. The friend who works for Jetstar loved her job so much. Her last flight was back around March or April of last year. Her husband works as a steward for THAI. Same deal for him - not sure if he has had any flights even though THAI has been flying regular repatriation flights, but with an already bloated workforce and a fraction of the normal flight volume not sure he was necessarily selected. Both are basically out of a job and may never fly again, despite still being fairly young not to mention experienced. Ditto for several other friends working for Thai, Bangkok Airways, Emirates and other airlines around the world.

My business has also been severely affected. Fortunately, I'm doing OK for now, but will have to let my employees go if I can't travel freely by this time next year.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1398

GoRobin, not sure which vaccine you are wishing to avoid but the one being approved for Australia have thousands of pages of test data as ‘proof’ as well as additional data from countries using it under emergency approvals. So by the time it reaches me there will have been several million test subjects.

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