HomeHealthCOVID-19Travel SOS: What's the deal with face masks and flying?

Travel SOS: What’s the deal with face masks and flying?

Ian has seen reports of people flying without masks and wants to know if it is safe.

Q. Ian
I have read reports of people flying back into Australia without wearing face masks on the flight. This seems like it should be the bare minimum for passengers that are returning to Australia. Shouldn’t it be mandatory for returned travellers to wear face masks? What are the rules around this? I certainly wouldn’t feel safe going on a flight unless all passengers were required to wear masks.

A. We certainly read those same reports you did, about passengers flying back without wearing masks.

At the time, the wearing of face masks was at the discretion of airlines. However, that has now changed, probably in response to those initial reports.

Now people who travel on commercial flights are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test before they board the plane and are also required to wear masks for the duration of the flight.

For domestic flights, the rules changed on 9 January, with the government mandating the wearing of masks on all flights within Australia and between Australia and New Zealand.

Passengers need to wear a mask at the airport, at the boarding gate and throughout their flight, unless they are under 12 years old or have an exemption due to a medical condition.

Passengers that are wearing masks are able to remove them to eat and drink, although some international budget airlines have halted food services during this period to reduce the risk of infection.

Other measures that have been prioritised to reduce the risk of infection while flying include moving to contactless check-in, self-service luggage drops and enhanced cleaning.

Also, last year we reported a study from the US Department of Defense that suggested that the ventilation systems on commercial aircraft efficiently removed the particles that could transmit the virus.

How do you feel about the coronavirus rules for flying? Do they do enough to protect Australians from the coronavirus? Have you taken a domestic flight recently? How happy were you with the safety protocols that were in place?

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Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking is a skilled writer and editor with interests and expertise in politics, government, Centrelink, finance, health, retirement income, superannuation, Wordle and sports.
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