When do mask mandates on airplanes end?

Beyond England, Northern Ireland, Norway and Barbados, destinations that currently have no in-air mask requirements include Mexico, Saint Lucia, the Bahamas and Jamaica. The United States, Scotland, Italy and China are among the many countries that continue to require masks on planes.

Airport rules may be stricter than airplane rules on a given route, which means a traveler may have to put on a mask upon arrival. According to the Airports Council International, a trade organization representing nearly 2,000 airports, airports in Norway, Denmark and England have been outliers when it comes to lifting mask requirements.

Maybe April 19, if — and that’s a big if — the White House doesn’t extend the mandate of the federal mask further. Even flight attendants are split on whether the warrant should be extended again, with some saying the mask rule isn’t worth it given enforcement issues, while others argue that the rule is essential to ensure the safety of medically vulnerable travellers.

It depends on who you ask.

Around the world, the number of cases varies. In recent weeks, the number of cases has fallen to its lowest level since June in the United States. Canada is also at its lowest number of cases since December. But in many other places, cases are increasing. As England moved away from airport and airline mask mandates on March 16, the number of cases rose to its highest level in almost a month. Meanwhile, a highly transmissible subvariant known as BA.2 is hitting parts of Asia and Europe. And on Sunday, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the Biden administration’s top pandemic adviser, predicted that the United States would eventually see a similar “rise” in BA.2 cases.

“Covid is not over,” said Leonard Marcus, director of Harvard’s Aviation Public Health Initiative, which produced a report some airline executives have used to rationalize ending mask requirements. Dr. Marcus said it was too early for him to have an opinion on whether BA.2 deserves an extension to the mask’s federal mandate. But once lifted, he said, a mask mandate will be difficult to reinstate.

Some proponents of ending mask mandates argue that as long as vaccines prevent serious illnesses, case counts are irrelevant because most international travelers are vaccinated.

In a statement announcing the end of its mask requirement last week, Heathrow Airport embodied this line of thinking, citing “the strong protection provided by vaccination programs around the world” and a membership in a “movement towards learning to live with Covid in the longer term. ”

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