Mandatory face-mask wearing in airports and on flights in Europe will become a thing of the past on 16 May.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) released a statement on Wednesday (local time) announcing the new recommendations.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said in a statement.

Authorities, however, still advise that the most effective way to control the spread of COVID-19 is wearing a mask. It is also still recommended that airlines encourage passengers to use mouth coverings on flights to or from destinations where wearing a mask on public transport is still required.

“It is a relief to all of us that we are finally reaching a stage in the pandemic where we can start to relax the health safety measures,” Mr Ky added.

“For many passengers, and also air-crew members, there is a strong desire for masks to no longer be a mandatory part of air travel. We are now at the start of that process.”