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Friday, July 1, 2022

Mask mandate dropped for Australian airport terminals

Travellers will no longer need to wear masks in airports from midnight on Friday, with the mandate remaining in place for flights.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee is scrapping its recommendation to mandate masks at airport terminals, the Albanese government announced on Tuesday.

The rule will be dropped as early as Saturday, but flyers will still be required to wear masks on planes to help limit the spread of COVID-19. 

In a statement, the government said the committee didn’t consider the mandate for terminals “proportionate” following relaxed mask-wearing rules in all states and territories.

“The government notes the AHPPC has strongly recommended Australians continue to wear masks as a key measure to help minimise the spread of COVID-19 and influenza,” the statement reads. 

“Masks help us protect the most vulnerable in our community who are unable to get vaccinated and people who have a higher risk of developing severe illness.”

The statement says the committee will continue to review mask wearing on flights, and will provide further advice on this in the future.

The news comes a week after Canberra Airport threatened legal action against the ACT Government for the mask mandate.

“We will advise our lawyers to file the paperwork because we have no other choice and we have a responsibility to the aviation staff and customers to fix this,” said Canberra Airport CEO Stephen Byron.

“It’s not like we haven’t tried asking nicely and even persistently and waited and waited, patiently and impatiently.

“We have asked for justification but there is none because there is no health reason for it to remain.

“After all of the damage that was done to the aviation industry with border shut downs through COVID-19, the last thing we want to be doing is telling people air travel and tourism is more dangerous than going to the shops, footy or the pub.”