Brazil Reintroduces Airplane Mask Mandate

Over the past year or so, we’ve seen a countless number of countries eliminate mask mandates for travel. Well, Brazil is countering the trend, and is reintroducing mask requirements at airports and on airplanes.

Brazil reinstates travel mask mandate

Brazil’s health regulatory agency, Anvisa, has announced plans to once again require travelers to wear masks. Specifically, as of Friday, November 25, 2022, Brazil will once again require masks at airports and on airplanes.

Brazil was only one of the more recent countries to lift its mask mandate, as the country stopped requiring them for travel back in August 2022. The mask requirement won’t be quite as strict as before, as airlines will be able to serve food and drinks as usual (while previously there were restrictions regarding service on domestic flights).

The mask requirement is being reintroduced as Brazil is seeing an increase in coronavirus cases in recent weeks. While cases are indeed up, they’re nowhere near what we saw at the beginning of the year, when there was the initial omicron surge. Then again, there’s also not as much testing going on nowadays.

Brazil’s coronavirus cases over the past year

Health authorities are concerned about a seasonal uptick in cases between November and January. While these are spring and summer months in Brazil, this reflects that this is also when many people from around the globe visit Brazil, which may lead to further cases being imported.

Here’s how Alex Campos, who proposed the return of this measure, describes the decision:

“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.”

Could airplane mask mandates return in other countries?

I’m kind of surprised to see Brazil reintroduce a mask mandate for travel, especially as this comes as Bolsonaro is still in office. It sure makes me wonder if we could see the return of more widespread travel mask mandates in the coming months:

  • At this point even the countries that were initially most conservative with pandemic restrictions have largely lifted travel mask mandates
  • Understandably coronavirus cases often come in waves based on variants and other factors, and it could be that we see another big wave soon
  • We saw all kinds of issues with people following mask mandates when they were imposed the first time around, and I can’t help but feel like there will be significantly more issues if this were to be reintroduced

As I’ve often said, personally I support masks being optional on planes. Nowadays we have high quality masks that people can use to protect themselves. Heck, I flew yesterday, and wore a mask at the airport and during boarding, and didn’t during the rest of the flight.

Letting people make the choice is the right move, in my opinion. Besides, at least in the United States there were few restrictions regarding the quality of masks people had to wear. It’s just plain silly to require people to wear masks, but then allow them to wear cloth masks.

Could we see more mask requirements reinstated?

Bottom line

As of November 25, 2022, Brazil will once again require masks on airplanes and at airports. Brazil had only lifted mask requirements back in August. Now a few months later, the country is reintroducing mask requirements, as we see an uptick in cases.

What do you make of Brazil bringing back its airplane mask mandate? Do you think we’ll see other countries follow?

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