Masks flights exemptions

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SA travellers ‘must wear masks for entire flight’ – but there are four exemptions

Hopping on a plane any time soon? Then you’ll need to get to grips with the latest directives on masks, issued by Minister Fikile Mbalula.

Masks flights exemptions

Photo: Unsplash

The skies above South Africa are open for the first time in six months, and many of our fellow citizens are looking to make the most of their new-found travel opportunities. One key requirement for boarding a flight in the coronavirus age is the wearing of face-coverings or masks. There are, however, exemptions to these rules.

The essential rules of face coverings on flights

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has outlined the comprehensive requirements for wearing masks while on a plane: These directives were refreshed this week, after international leisure travel from Mzansi got the green light. In a nutshell, these are the six major rules – and four important exemptions – that apply to the aviation laws regarding face coverings.

  • Passengers are required to wear masks at all times during their flights.
  • This applies from entering an airport, right up until exiting the airport at your point of arrival.
  • There are exemptions, however: People with relevant medical conditions don’t have to wear their masks.
  • Children aged two and younger are not required to have a face-covering – as this can restrict their ‘fragile’ airways.
  • Those who are required to wear masks can remove them when the cabin crew instructs travellers to do so: For example, when food or drink is served onboard an aircraft.
  • In the event of an emergency, face coverings can also be removed – passengers may be required to use oxygen masks.

Who is exempt from wearing face masks on a flight?

According to Mbalula, those who cannot wear masks due to medical conditions will have to prove this is the case when they enter the airport. Passengers must submit a medical certificate – from a trusted medical source – before they can fly.

“Operators are allowed to provide catering on-board an aircraft. Passengers are required to wear face masks at all times and may only remove face masks during emergencies or when instructed by cabin crew to take them off, and must observe social distancing, ensure handwashing, and sanitize regularly.”

“This is because masks can restrict breathing for small children as their airways are smaller than older children and adults. A passenger who is unable to wear a face mask due to an underlying medical condition must submit a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner to the operator prior to departure.” 

Fikile Mbalula