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Garuda Indonesia crew to stop wearing face masks for smiles

Garuda Indonesia, flag carrier of the Republic of Indonesia, is set to halt a directive requiring in-flight cabin crew to wear face masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Malay Mail, this sentiment was expressed on June 16th by the carrier’s Chief Executive Officer Irfan Setiaputra who during a webinar with Jakarta’s Bina Nusantara University, stated that “Many of Garuda’s adult passengers have been complaining about our stewardesses wearing masks… The passengers cannot tell if they are smiling or frowning.” He further reiterated that he did not want to compromise on passenger comfort by having crew in intimidating garments with “Everyone wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), covered from head-to-toe, that’s not right.”

Mr. Setiaputra however stated that the carrier would gradually replace the crews’ face masks with face shields, and strive to further minimise direct contact with passengers on-board. This would be conducted in addition to other safety measures the airline has already put in place in line with the Indonesian COVID-19 Handling Acceleration Force and Ministry of Health Protocol for Handling the Return of Indonesian Citizens & Arrival of Foreigners in the State Entrance. These include the requirement for health certificates proving a negative test result for passengers, and mandatory wearing of face masks while in the airport and on-board.

As at June 11, 2020, the carrier was operating some flights across its domestic network from its hub in Jakarta to popular destinations such as Denpasar, Yogyakarta, and Medan. Internationally, routes from Jakarta to Malaysia, Singapore, and Japan had partially resumed, while routes from Jakarta to China, Thailand, and Saudi Arabia remained suspended.

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