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EU Agrees on Germany’s Coronavirus Proposal for Air Travel

FILE - Air travelers stand in a queue in Terminal 1 of Frankfurt Airport, Germany, in front of a check-in counter, June 15, 2020.

The European Union agreed Thursday on Germany’s proposal for coronavirus-preventative common hygiene standards at airports and on aircraft.

“I am pleased that the German proposal was accepted by my colleagues at the European level and that we could agree on these uniform standards,” Andreas Scheuer, minister of transport and digital infrastructure, said at a European aviation conference.

The agreement reached by officials will have to be formally approved by ministers.

The proposal includes social distancing and the wearing of face masks at security checks and check-ins for those older than 6. It does not require the middle seats on airplanes to be empty.

It is not clear how much the proposal will differ from the Safety Directive (SD) issued by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which went into effect July 1.

The most recent SD and EASA’s COVID-19 Aviation Healthy Safety Protocol states that the use of medical face masks should be “recommended” to everyone at the airport and on aircraft.

Current guidelines also state that passengers should not be kept onboard an aircraft without proper ventilation for longer than 30 minutes. The SD, however, requires airplanes to be cleaned and disinfected only before and after long-haul flights, and has operators take a “risk assessment” for shorter flights. But airplanes are still cleaned at least once every 24 hours.

Meanwhile, the United States, Russia and Brazil remain excluded from the EU’s 14-country “safe travel list” from which the bloc allows nonessential travel.