Russian airline Aeroflot will move passengers who refuse to wear masks to a separate section of the plane

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  • Russian airline Aeroflot will designate a seating area for passengers who refuse to wear face coverings, Reuters reported. 
  • The new policy applies to passengers who decline to keep their masks on after boarding. 
  • The airline announced Tuesday that it is tightening its COVID-19 protocols and will deny boarding to anybody who isn’t wearing a mask, regardless of the reason. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Aeroflot, Russia’s flagship airline, will dedicate a special seating area to passengers who refuse to wear protective face masks, the company announced Tuesday according to Reuters. 

“Dedicated seats are allocated to passengers who declare their refusal to use masks after [the aircraft’s] doors close,” Aeroflot spokeswoman Yulia Spivakova told reporters, per the outlet. 

Spivakova said that this was a common global practice and a necessary measure, adding that it does not preclude the airline from taking other actions against passengers who break its guidelines regarding personal protective equipment, according to Russian state news agency TASS. 

Aeroflot did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the reasoning behind the policy and on whether maskless passengers would be sectioned off from the rest of the cabin in any way. The Moscow Times reported that the maskless zone would be located in the last two rows of the righthand side of the plane, citing Russian outlet Baza. 

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The new policy came after Aeroflot announced Tuesday that it would deny boarding to any passenger not wearing a mask, regardless of the reason they provide. Travelers who can’t wear masks for medical reasons won’t be allowed to board under the stricter rules. 

Aeroflot’s COVID-19 guidelines also stipulate that passengers must change out their masks every three hours, and after removing it to eat or drink. 

US airlines require masks for passengers above the age of two and do not set aside a maskless zone. South Shore Line, a commuter rail line that operates in Indiana and Chicago, introduced mask-optional train cars in September but discontinued them after the state enacted stricter public-health guidelines. 

Russia halted international flights amid the pandemic earlier this year and has slowly resumed flights to select countries, including Japan, Cuba, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates.  

To date, Russia has reported roughly 2.7 million COVID-19 infections and close to 48,000 deaths, according to Reuters. The country reinstated a national mask mandate in late October as cases began to spike. 

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