Masks no longer a must on flights

PETALING JAYA: Mask wearing is no longer mandatory on flights.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the decision, the latest in Malaysia’s continued relaxation of Covid-19 rules, took into consideration the country’s improving Covid-19 situation as well as better aircraft practices and technology.

“These include good cabin ventilation, usage of high-efficiency particulate absorbing filters to remove airborne pollutants, forward seating arrangement and frequency of aeroplane disinfection scheduling.

“The country’s Covid-19 caseload is also more manageable.

“The decision was made using a risk-based approach, which has taken into account improvements in aircraft technology and practices.

“The relaxation is also in line with health recommendations from countries such as the European Union, Britain, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore,” he said in a statement.

Separately, Khairy said in a tweet that the ministry had also received assurances from local airlines about the cleanliness of the aircraft.

“Thank you @MAS CEO Capt Izham (Malaysia Airlines chief executive Izham Ismail) for the discussion earlier and reassurances of air quality & cleanliness on airplanes,” he tweeted.

Khairy, however, said the ministry would still advise high-risk individuals to continue masking up on flights.

These include individuals with symptoms such as fever, cough and cold, elderly folk, pregnant mothers, and people with chronic diseases or low immunity.

“Individuals travelling with high-risk people such as children or the elderly should also continue wearing masks on flights,” said Khairy. The relaxation follows the ministry’s move on Sept 7 to remove the mask mandate for most indoor settings.

The mask requirement now remains mandatory only on public transportation such as trains, buses, taxis and ehailing vehicles.

Face masks are also still mandatory at hospitals and medical institutions, while the Heath Ministry encourages the public to mask up in crowded settings.

Mask-wearing became a requirement on Aug 1, 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On May 1 this year, the requirement for face masks to be used outdoors was removed, a month after Malaysia announced that it had entered the transition to the endemic phase.

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