Last year there was a discussion about a ban on face covering clothes aimed at Islamic women. Currently, there is a discussion about a requirement to cover faces in planes. A passenger onboard a flight to Amsterdam doesn’t wear a facemask on June 5, 2020 although it is mandatory. The carrier informs the Dutch military police of the situation. Therefore, police meet the flight at the gate. After having contacted the public prosecutor, they present the passenger with a fine of €300 ($340). Insofar known it is the first passenger fined for not wearing a facemask in-flight.
Requirement for facemask
Police have not identified the airline. Some countries, including Canada, have made it a legal requirement to wear a facemask onboard. But most countries don’t have such a legal requirement.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the airline industry’s mouth piece. They support the wearing of face coverings for passengers and masks for crew while on board aircraft.
No social distancing
The interesting thing is that IATA doesn’t support mandating social distancing measures that would leave middle seats empty. Basically, this is based on an economic argument: it would be too costly for carriers. In this case, they conveniently forget their mantra that the safety of their passengers is their highest priority.
In an attempt to rationalize this fairly contradictory stance, IATA says that evidence suggests the risk of transmission on board aircraft is low. They stress that mask-wearing by passengers and crew will reduce the already low risk further. At the same time carriers avoid the dramatic cost increases that onboard social distancing measures would bring. Now we can wait for the removal of safety belts because the risk of an accident is low.
A balancing act
The airline industry is afraid that potential customers will be deterred from traveling if they believe they will be at risk of contracting the coronavirus from fellow travelers. Therefore, the industry is making such a complicated balancing act.
Indirect legal requirement
Meanwhile, most airlines require passengers to cover their faces. Even if there is no legal requirement for wearing facemasks, a carrier can mandate passengers to cover their faces. And passengers are legally required to comply with the crew's instructions. So there may be an indirect legal requirement for passengers to wear facemasks.
Related: Masks in the cabin
Tags: facemask, social distancing, contradictory stance