The UAE airlines maintain that wearing masks is still mandatory during the flight as some countries eased while others tightened the rules about masks during air travel.
Importantly, the local carriers maintain that passengers who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 are also required to wear masks within airports and during the flight.
On Tuesday, the number of daily Covid-19 cases in the UAE crossed 1,000 mark, the highest since February 14, 2022.
Dubai’s flagship carrier Emirates stated on its website that passengers “must wear a cloth or medical mask throughout Dubai International airport, during boarding, throughout your flight, and as you leave the aircraft. Children under six years old and customers who have certain medical conditions do not have to wear a mask.”
However, passengers who are unable to wear a mask throughout their entire journey due to medical reasons, need to contact Emirates 48 hours before their flight to request an exception and present their medical certificate at check‑in.
The medical certificate must contain the date of birth, reasons for not wearing the mask, doctor’s name and signature with an official stamp or licence number and the date of issuance. The certificate must also be issued within three months of the travel date.
Dubai’s flagship carrier said that due to local government regulations, only medical face masks are accepted on flights from Dubai to Germany, France, and Austria.
Budget carrier flydubai also asks all passengers to wear a mask throughout their flight except when eating or drinking.
“You must wear a face mask throughout your entire journey: at the airport, during boarding, throughout your flight and as you leave the aircraft. Children under 6 years old and passengers who have certain medical conditions do not have to wear a mask,” it said in a statement on its website.
Passengers who can’t wear masks due to medical reasons are required to inform the airline at least 72 hours before the flight.
People suffering from Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia, Hydrocephalus, Down syndrome, Developmental delay and Autism spectrum conditions are exempted from wearing masks. This also applies to passengers who require supplemental oxygen or have respiratory conditions of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure, cystic fibrosis and asthma.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways also requires travellers aged six and above to wear masks at all times on board.
While Sharjah-based low-cost carrier Air Arabia said on its website that passengers should wear mask properly and advised to change disposable surgical masks after every four hours.
It suggested that travellers should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or flexed elbow when sneezing or coughing even if wearing a mask.
Wear well-fitted masks
Dr Ram Shukla, a specialist in infectious disease, NMC Royal Hospital, Sharjah, advised travellers to wear a well-fitted standard mask in crowded, closed spaces as people are not able to maintain a safe distance from each other during travel.
“Any mask is better than no mask, but a standard well-fitting mask is preferred. Mask and respirators (N95) are different; while a mask is advised for everyone, N95 must be used by professionals,” he said.
Dr Shukla stressed that wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, maintaining hygiene, and vaccination is essential for some more time to reduce the chances of spreading Covid-19.
Dr Sarla Kumari of Canadian Specialist Hospital, Dubai, said masks protect others and those vulnerable due to old age or infection.
“Wearing a mask while travelling can protect you from many air born viruses,” she added.
Among the 27-member European Union (EU) countries, Austria, Cyprus, Estonia, Holland, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal and Luxembourg require travellers to face masks on flights. While Italy will maintain wearing masks mandatory till June 15.
Earlier this week, the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation of India ordered airlines to ensure that all passengers wore masks properly throughout the flight. But masks can be removed due to medical conditions.
The regulator allowed airlines to de-board passengers who refused to wear masks or follow Covid-19 safety protocols after repeated warnings during the flight.
While Tokyo earlier this week asked foreign tourists visiting Japan to wear masks throughout their stay in the Asian country.
Saudi Arabia’s flag carrier Saudia says all international passengers must wear masks during the flight and in closed areas when they’re in the kingdom.
Starting April 2022, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) said wearing masks is not mandatory on domestic air travel within Pakistan but encouraged passengers to wear face masks in close spaces such as aircraft cabins or passenger terminals. But any passenger exhibition of any Covid-19 related symptoms will, however, be required to wear a face mask during the flight.
In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday removed a mask recommendation from its monkeypox travel notice to avoid "confusion" over the disease, which primarily spreads through direct contact.
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