Mask mandates on flights could soon be scrapped but a national approach must first be agreed by all states and territories.
While Health Minister Mark Butler has not yet received advice from public health authorities about removing mask requirements on international flights to Australia, he said rules on domestic flights were a matter for state and territory leaders to decide.
The key decision-making committee for health emergencies – the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee – decided at its most recent meeting masks should remain on flights, Mr Butler said.
“If advice comes to me … about lifting the mask mandate on incoming flights, it would be my intention to consult with state ministers,” he said in Canberra on Wednesday.
The mask mandate on domestic flights would be decided at a national level and it was important for all state and territory leaders to be on the same page when the advice to remove restrictions comes, Mr Butler said.
He did not want different mask rules for flights across jurisdictions.
It follows AHPPC’s decision earlier this month to scrap its recommendation for mandatory masks in airport terminals.
This week, Qantas’ also moved to dump masks on international flights to some destinations.
Masks are no longer required on board Qantas flights from NSW, Western Australia and Queensland to Britain, the US and Rome. Passengers must still wear masks on inbound flights.
As for the return of mask wearing in public places and venue density limits during winter, Mr Butler did not expect those measures to return.
“I don’t think public health authorities are suggesting that there’s any likelihood of advice around those old public health measures,” he said.
“Australians are glad to see those in the rear-vision mirror.”
Australia’s latest 24-hour COVID data
NSW: 9203 cases, 26 deaths, 1500 in hospital with 53 in ICU
Victoria: 7461 cases, nine deaths, 411 in hospital with 23 in ICU
Tasmania: 1043 cases, two deaths, 46 in hospital with two in ICU