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Covid-19: Masking requirements to be lifted on French transport, European flights

Masked passengers ride a metro in France. © Michel Euler, AP

Face masks will no longer be required on trains, planes and metros in France starting on May 16, the health minister said Wednesday. Mask-wearing requirements are also set to be lifted in airports and on flights in Europe the same day, the EU Aviation Safety Agency said.

"From Monday, May 16, masks will no longer be mandatory for all public transport," Health Minister Olivier Véran said after a weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

"Wearing a mask remains recommended," he added, but the rule is "no longer appropriate" given the large drop in Covid cases recently.

France began easing its strict face mask rules in February after a winter surge in cases, but for weeks they were still required at the workplace or in schools until infections declined further. Masks as well as a health pass proving vaccination status are still required for entering hospitals, and people who test positive must still self-isolate for at least seven days.

On Tuesday, 56,449 new cases were reported over the previous 24 hours, mainly the Omicron variant, despite a concerted vaccination campaign that has seen 79.3 percent of the population receive all three required doses, according to health ministry data.

In March authorities began offering a fourth vaccine dose to people age 80 and over, and Véran said a new booster campaign for the general population could be necessary in the autumn depending on which new variants emerge. France has recorded just under 147,000 Covid deaths since the outbreak emerged.

France's move comes amid an easing of travel and sanitary restrictions throughout Europe. Face mask requirements are set to be lifted in airports and on flights in Europe, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said Wednesday.

Those new recommendations will also come into effect on Monday.

"From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport," EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said in a statement.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AFP)

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Dive Deeper:
France lifts Covid restrictions, no longer requiring masks on planes, trains as of Monday
France will no longer require passengers on trains, metros, busses and domestic flights to wear masks starting Monday, 16 May,…
Five European countries that have no Covid-19 vaccination entry requirements
British tourists can travel without having to prove they are vaccinated, or recovered from Covid, or have tested negative
'Mandatory' face-covering rules on European flights lifted from next week
Requirement will be dropped when rules change on Monday but vulnerable passengers told they should still wear a mask
Irish holidaymakers to get huge boost within days as face mask advice for flights to Europe dropped
The advice for the mandatory wearing of face masks in airports and on board flights across Europe was changed on…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
EU-wide mask rules for flights, airports eased from Monday
Berlin (AFP) - EU-wide guidance on requiring masks for air travel will be lifted from next week, the bloc's aviation…
EU to scrap face masks on planes and airports from next week
Face mask rules on planes are set to change in the EU as face coverings will no longer be mandatory…
Get all your news in one place