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.
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?