One of the most controversial public health measures to combat COVID-19 is no longer an issue for travelers flying on four Scandinavian airlines. Starting on October 18, SAS, Norwegian Air, Widerøe and Flyr have all lifted mask mandates for domestic flights and international travel within Scandinavian countries. Travelers venturing outside Scandinavia will, unfortunately, still be required to mask up.
Still, this move towards a maskless flying future seems significant. The airlines cite lowering COVID-19 case numbers and dropping hospitalizations in recent weeks, as well as high rates of vaccination as rationale for the relaxing of restrictions.
Norwegian Air’s communications director was mindful of people who prefer to mask. He says whether to mask up will remain a personal choice. The airline continues to welcome passengers who choose to remain masked on flights.
Another caveat is that some regional airports, like Oslo (the capital of Norway), do still require masks. So while flights will be mask-free, you might still have to wear one in public areas in some airports.
All 4 airlines operate flights outside of Scandinavia. This means they will require passengers to comply with the EU regulations for the rest of Europe.
Passengers who may be affected by the new rules are encouraged to stay abreast of the latest policies. If COVID-19 cases should start to rise in Scandinavia, the airlines have not ruled out a return to more strict public health procedures.
How do you feel about this news? Do you think it will encourage the U.S. airlines to follow suit? And if they do, will you feel safe enough to skip the mask on board flights? We’d love to hear what you think. Share your thoughts in the comment section below!