Airport Mask Mandate Ends in Most Australian States

Passenger wearing face mask uses hand sanitiser at Qantas boarding gate
Passengers will no longer be required to wear face masks at most Australian airports from Saturday. Photo: Qantas.

The requirement to wear a face mask inside most Australian airports will come to an end this weekend, after the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) recommended “that it is no longer proportionate to mandate mask use in airport terminals”.

It’s now up to individual states & territories to decide whether to follow this recommendation and remove the mask requirement at airports in their jurisdictions from next Saturday.

So far, the governments of Queensland, NSW, Western Australia, Tasmania and the ACT have confirmed they will remove the legal requirement to wear a mask at airports in their states this weekend, in line with this advice. Other state governments are expected to make announcements in the coming days or weeks.

Masks are required in Adelaide Airport
Masks have been required in all Australian airport terminals for most of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Matt Graham.

Wearing a mask at airports is still recommended, but will not be a legal requirement in states where the order has been lifted. It is still mandatory to wear a mask on board domestic flights for the time being, although airlines are now lobbying for this requirement to be relaxed as well.

This is the statement that the AHPPC released on Tuesday:

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has reviewed the current COVID-19 situation in Australia and revised the need for mandated mask wearing in certain settings. The AHPPC notes that all states and territories have relaxed mask mandates in most settings within the community and considers that it is no longer proportionate to mandate mask use in airport terminals. The AHPPC proposes that mask wearing in airport terminals no longer be mandated from as early as midnight 17 June 2022.

The AHPPC continues to recognise the role of masks, along with other public health measures, in minimising COVID-19 and influenza transmission and protecting the broader community, including those who are unable to get vaccinated and people who have a higher risk of developing severe illness. In light of this, the AHPPC continues to strongly recommend continued mask wearing in airport terminals and other indoor settings, especially where physical distancing is not possible.

The requirement to wear a mask at airports and on board flights has already been removed in many other countries including the United States and in the European Union.

Other COVID-19 travel restrictions around the world are also being gradually eased. For example, the United States last week also removed the requirement for a pre-departure COVID-19 test. New Zealand will do the same next Monday. (Australia already removed the requirement for a COVID-19 test before flying to Australia in April.)

Qantas announced this week that it is considering removing the requirement to wear a face mask on its international flights to destinations where masks are now optional, such as the UK and United States.

Qantas and Virgin Australia are now two of the only airlines globally to require passengers on their international flights to be vaccinated against COVID-19, regardless of any government requirements. Air New Zealand, which also previously adopted this rule, has since dropped it.

 

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Why masks in airports?

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]

Community Comments

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The CEO of Melbourne Airport made a similar point two or three weeks ago, suggesting that the case for wearing masks in airports was very weak.

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The ridiculous requirement to wear masks in airports is another example of the hypocracy that still lingers from the Covid 19 outbreak.

I can understand the requirement on a flight, but an airport is no different to a supermarket or bar …… so to the people who love making rules ….. for heavens sake, let go of the silly rules in airports.

Moot point in SA. We still have to wear masks everywhere enclosed.

Reply 3 Likes

The ridiculous requirement to wear masks in airports is another example of the hypocracy that still lingers from the Covid 19 outbreak.

I can understand the requirement on a flight, but an airport is no different to a supermarket or bar …… so to the people who love making rules ….. for heavens sake, let go of the silly rules in airports.

i think it’s the close proximity of people at airports? Standing in line for checkin, then security, then to board, and finally on the jetway.

People seem to practice social distancing less at airports than in 0aces like supermarkets.

Also, a bar is optional for people to avoid if they want. There may be people travelling for reasons they cannot avoid.

Reply 5 Likes

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I would feel so much safer if people are wearing masks at the airport.
So much anxiety already because some countries you enter still requires you to do another PCR test.
Would not want to be positive and having to quarantine when you travelled all that way...

Reply 5 Likes

I would feel so much safer if people are wearing masks at the airport.
So much anxiety already because some countries you enter still requires you to do another PCR test.
Would not want to be positive and having to quarantine when you travelled all that way...

I meant domestic terminals … not international terminals.

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I observed around 5% non-mask wearers at SYD and MEL a couple of weeks ago - so hopefully common sense will prevail soon.

In the meantime, exemptions are relatively easy to justify..

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I observed around 5% non-mask wearers at SYD and MEL a couple of weeks ago - so hopefully common sense will prevail soon.

In the meantime, exemptions are relatively easy to justify..

And if no common sense, proper enforcement!

In the US federal penalties apply for failure to wear a mask, and potential to be added to the 'no fly' list.

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And if no common sense, proper enforcement!

In the US federal penalties apply for failure to wear a mask, and potential to be added to the 'no fly' list.

It was only *just* extended in the US until mid April and will probably go after that. The UK delayed by a couple of weeks removing masks on planes but also about to go. I’m in the UK now and hardly anyone is wearing masks. Some theatres are mandating it. Transport is supposed to be mandatory, but probably less than 25% compliance. After 2 yrs, they’re over it.

But back to the OP, masks now in domestic airports does seem odd when it’s not really that different to standing in queue at Woolies/Bunnings (v security) or in a cafe/restaurant (v lounge/gate).

Reply 1 Like

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And if no common sense, proper enforcement!

In the US federal penalties apply for failure to wear a mask, and potential to be added to the 'no fly' list.

Dumb rules shouldn't be enforced.

Reply 5 Likes

Airport = shopping centres according to airport investors

Reply 2 Likes