Brazil has reinstated its mandatory mask rules at airports and on airplanes. Will other nations follow?
Mandatory Mask Rule Returns On Airplanes, At Airports In Brazil
Earlier this week, ANVISA, Brazil’s health authority, announced the new regulation, which went into effect on November 25, 2022. This comes after Brazil lifted its travel mask mandate in August, over two years after it was introduced.
“In recent years, Brazil has seen an increase in virus transmission in the months of November to January, a situation that could get even worse with the anticipation of a greater flow of travelers passing through airports during school vacations and the end-of-year holidays.”
ANVISA Director Alex Campos framed the mask in patriotic terms:
“The use of masks in higher risk environments, due to their characteristics of confinement, circulation and agglomeration of people, represents an act of citizenship and protection of the community, and aims to mitigate the risk of transmission and contagion of the disease.”
Interestingly, this comes in the waning days of the Jair Bolsonaro administration. President Bolsonaro has railed against masks during the pandemic and notoriously refused to wear one early in the pandemic, prompting a court order to do so. This demonstrates a degree of legal separation between ANVISA and the Brazilian Presidency (indeed, ANVISA cited its own legal powers as the authority for its move).
As a small consolation, this time Brazil has not banned meal service on domestic flights, as it did during the pandemic.
Even with seasonal upticks in cases, I believe masks should be optional at this point in 2022. With vaccinations and treatment options for COVID-19 widely available, people should be left to decide for themselves whether to seek additional protection via masking. Masks were formerly framed as providing protection for others rather than yourself, but the use of medical grade masks offers personal protection and should be left to individuals due to their widespread availability.
Will we now see masking return to other countries? Hopefully not beyond Brazil (and Spain), though I expect other countries (not the USA) will re-introduce mask requirements if the weeks ahead bring an unexpectedly high surge in cases.
Mandatory masking has returned to Brazil. Masks continue to be required in Spain, a European Union outlier.
My opinion remains unchanged: masks should be optional. While there is some wisdom in wearing a mask in terms of preventive health, that should be left to each person to decide at this point.