COVID-19: Wearing masks on flights takes the appeal out of travelling - aviation expert

An expert believes jet setting across the ditch is about to become a less glamorous affair with stronger air travel restrictions in place.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced on Thursday anyone travelling between New Zealand and Australia will now need to wear a face mask.

The announcement came after three cases of COVID-19 were found in New Zealand this week after a 24-day run of no new infections.

But aviation commentator Irene King says wearing masks takes the appeal out of travel.

"Wearing the mask is denigrating the whole ambiance of the flight," she told Newshub. "We come to associate flying with eating and also drinking but now, of course, you're going to have to skilfully move around a face mask."

King said some airlines may even scrap meal services.

"Some of the airlines now are restricting the types of food and others are just removing alcohol so you don't have to reposition your face mask."

The job description for flight cabin crew could also change drastically as the rules come into play. King told Newshub it will be up to airline staff to police mask-wearing.

"People go off to sleep and the facemask falls down, then of course they [flight attendants] have to wake up the passenger," she said. "It'll be a real test of their skill."

Dr Bloomfield said on Thursday most flying from Australia to New Zealand had only transited through Australia and come from other international origins, therefore increasing the risk of spread.

Masks have been an issue of contention in New Zealand throughout the pandemic. Experts have called for masks to be compulsory on the likes of public transport but Dr Bloomfield has previously said the frequent need for readjustments and associated face-touching as reasons why masks are not a necessity in the fight against COVID-19.

On its website, the Ministry of Health says there's "no convincing evidence" to require the use of face masks for healthy people in public.

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