The temporary new rule will take effect across the airline’s network on Friday, May 15.
While global opinion remains divided over the effectiveness of non-medical masks as protection against Covid-19, Hong Kong’s flag carrier is now erring on the side of caution to further safeguard the wellbeing of its customers and crew. In a statement, the airline has revealed it will soon be mandatory to wear a face covering in situations where passengers “cannot maintain a physical distance of two meters from others.”
Specifically, this means travelers must be masked at airport check-in, in Cathay Pacific lounges, during boarding, while inside the aircraft cabin, and when disembarking the plane. Also included under the temporary requirement are what the airline calls “high-traffic areas,” such as security lines and baggage collection zones. Exceptions will be made for passengers who are “unable to tolerate a face covering,” with children under the age of six exempt from the rule. The airline will not provide masks to anyone without; all fliers are encouraged to bring their own cloth or disposable versions.
The new precautionary measure comes on top of a detailed cleaning regimen and modified inflight services. Those traveling in first and business class will have their meals served to them on a single tray instead of from a trolley. Meanwhile, a “hot snack service” has been rolled out in premium economy and economy class, and hot towels, pillows, and blankets are no longer provided across all cabin classes. To further reduce contact, magazines have been removed and inflight duty-free sales are temporarily suspended.
After every flight, the entire plane is disinfected using cleaning products recommended by IATA and the WHO, with special attention paid to personal television screens, meal tables, and armrests. Should there be a confirmed case of Covid-19, additional disinfecting will be carried out by trained cleaning professionals in a careful process taking up to five hours.
Of Cathay Pacific’s network of lounges worldwide, only The Wing First and Business in Hong Kong and Shanghai Pudong remain open. The food offering at both venues has been adjusted to reduce contact, while the cleaning of surfaces in washrooms, lifts, and other “high-use areas” now takes place more frequently.
More information here.