Singapore will shortly eliminate its mandatory mask rules at airports and onboard airplanes. This is big news from a nation that was amongst the most cautious in addressing the pandemic.
Singapore Eliminates Mask Rules At Airports And On Airplanes
Citing steadily declining infection numbers and hospitalizations, Singapore announced that indoor masking will no longer be mandatory starting on August 29, 2022. While masks will still be required on public transport and in healthcare facilities, masks will no longer be required at Singapore Changi Airport, Seletar Airport, or onboard flights to and from Singapore.
Masks will still be required on some Singapore Airlines flights (as well as on other carriers serving Singapore). Germany, for example, still requires masks onboard flights, so passengers will continue to have to mask on SQ25 and SQ26. Furthermore, Spain still requires masks onboard, so Singapore Airlines will require masks on its Fifth Freedom flights between Milan and Barcelona, SQ377 and SQ378. Masking polices of other nations, like Indonesia and South Korea, will still mean masking onboard on a handful of flights.
Why This Is Particularly Great News
Singapore has charted a unique trajectory when it comes to COVID-19. The city-state went from a “zero COVID” policy (to the extent that it teased a new meeting concept separated by glass) to one of the region’s most liberal.
Beyond the falling case numbers, this policy change was driven by the recognition that 1.) COVID-19 will not be eradicated and 2.) COVID-19 is far more easily treatable now than in the past. It’s really the best we can hope for: somehow we must go about living our lives, recognizing that coexistence with the virus is a necessity.
When I flew though Singapore Changi last November, I was not even allowed in the regular departures hall because I was traveling from Bangkok, deemed a high-risk country. Starting next week, not only will I be able to roam freely, I won’t even have to wear a mask.
> Read More: My Singapore Transit Was Not What I Expected
I’m just a traveler, but I appreciate being able to weigh the risk myself and act accordingly. Those who do not trust their fellow travelers are free to wear N95 or N100 masks to better protect themselves.
Singapore’s move is quite a contrast to Germany, where the Bundestag earlier officially extended obligatory transportation masking (onboard planes, trains, busses) till April 2023. The fact that cautious Singapore is making this move represents a final thaw in the sort of protocols that may provide some level of added security, but no longer make sense considering the overall risk dynamic.