Europe: Face Mask Requirements Still Vary Widely

Europe: Face Mask Requirements Still Vary Widely


Europe's Face Mask Usage and Requirements Still Vary Widely. This was starkly apparent while I waited in Copenhagen Airport for a flight to Spain with other passengers, mostly Danish and a few Spanish, virtually all of them maskless. A terse announcement informed us that Spanish law required all passengers age six and older to wear a face mask for boarding, deplaning, and the duration of the flight, and that anyone who didn't have a face mask should purchase one immediately, as none would be supplied. That sent a number of Danes scurrying off to buy face masks, something they probably haven't worn for months. Over a few days in Copenhagen, the only people I saw wearing face masks were visitors and tourists.

On the flight itself, many passengers ordered food or drink in order to be able to keep their mask off. Ironically, I never saw the flight crew admonish any of the Danes flouting the mask rule, but one crew member repeatedly scolded my Spanish seat mate, who wasn't eating anything, but sometimes let the mask slip below his nose.

Meanwhile, once we arrived at the airport in Spain, an area that likely has worse air filtering than the HEPA filters on airplanes, face masks were no longer required, and again, almost no one was wearing one. But upon joining the taxi queue, we noticed that all taxi drivers were wearing masks. At check-in at the hotel, not so much. Neither hotel staff nor guests were wearing masks.

Similar to Spain, Germany still requires face masks on flights to and from Germany, and masks must be a high quality medical face mask (FFP2, FFP3, KN95 or N95). Only children under six years old and those unable to wear a mask for medical reasons are exempt. Masks must also be worn on public transit.

Italy, meanwhile, no longer requires face masks on airplanes, but does continue to require high grade masks (FFP2 level) to be worn on public transport, and recommends mask wearing indoors, which many Italians continue to abide by. Museums can require face masks, and if you're caught not wearing a mask where it's required to wear one, you could be fined up to $450.

Austria also continues to require high quality face masks on public transit and in stations, although no longer requires face masks on flights.

If you've traveled in Europe in June 2022, what has been your experience with where face masks are and aren't required?

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