Aviation in Finland took a big step towards compulsory face mask use on Tuesday, even as the country's government waits for an official report on whether face masks are useful in combating the spread of coronavirus.
Both Finland's state-owned airline Finnair and airports authority Finavia announced separately on Tuesday that customer-facing staff would be required to wear face masks. They also called on passengers to use masks on Finnair flights as well as at airports in Finland.
Finnish flag carrier Finnair took to Twitter on Tuesday (siirryt toiseen palveluun) to announce the new mask rule.
Piia Karhu, SVP customer experience said in a statement that the airline had implemented several changes to safeguard the health of customers and employees. She added that the use of masks will be one of the such measures and that it will be in effect from 18 May until the end of August.
"Customers will board the flight with their own mask and wear it throughout the flight,” Karhu said in the release.
Finnair: Masks protect from droplet infections
"Also, Finnair’s customer facing staff at the airport as well as the cabin crew will wear surgical masks," she added noting that mask usage had become more widespread and that they protect passengers from possible droplet infections.
"We recommend that customers acquire a mask that fits them already before their flight, pack as little as possible and check in online or with a mobile app – all of these reduce waiting times and contacts at the airport”, Karhu continued.
However she warned that passengers will not be allowed to board "if there is the slightest suspicion of a Covid-19 infection or if they have respiratory symptoms.”
The airline listed all of the new routines introduced, including one-metre distancing at airports, larger seating intervals where possible, sanitisation provisions and reduced in-flight service.
Finavia: Passengers to bring own masks
Meanwhile Finland's aviation authority Finavia announced on Tuesday that it would require all employees working with the public to wear face masks. The airport operator also said in a statement that it strongly recommends that passengers also use face masks while passing through airports.
"We have already taken several measures at our airports and we are ready to quickly change our guidelines if the situation requires it. We are now expanding the use of masks to protect our customers and personnel," Helsinki-Vantaa airport director Ulla Lettijeff said in the release.
Lettijeff added that Finavia wants to do its best to ensure that passengers can use local airports with their minds at ease.
"We are asking passengers to use their own masks whenever they are in airports. It's good to have a suitable mask as part of your travel preparations. Additionally, at the moment we have set aside a limited number of face masks to give to passengers who don't yet have masks with them," Lettijeff continued.
She added that airport personnel have been using masks already, but noted that Finavia will now require their use in all customer service tasks at all locations where there is no protective plexiglass.
Finavia said that it would initially provide customer service businesses at the airport with masks, but added that after that, firms would have the responsibility of supplying employees with protection.