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Monday, March 20, 2023

Heathrow Airport Removes Covid-Safe Mask Rules

Passengers at the UK’s busiest airport are no longer required to wear face masks.

Heathrow Airport no longer forces passengers to wear them in its terminals, train stations, or business buildings, although they are nevertheless strongly encouraged to do so.

The newest airlines to loosen their policy on facial coverings are British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

If the nation to which they are traveling mandates it, passengers must still wear them on board aircraft.

Masks were no longer necessary on some public transportation and in stores after the ‘Plan B’ restrictions ceased in late January.

However, until last week, Heathrow, which handles a huge number of foreign flights, has maintained the requirement that facial coverings be worn.

Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow’s chief operations officer, expressed her delight at the airport’s decision to abandon the use of mandated face masks.

“We can be certain that the efforts we’ve made in Covid-secure measures – some of which aren’t always obvious – combined with the wonderful protection afforded by the vaccine will continue to keep people safe when traveling,” she added.

Heathrow said it would not hesitate to reinstate the rule if there was a large increase in infections or a future variety of concern.

People who still wish to wear facial coverings will be free to do so, according to the airport.

Virgin Atlantic also said on Wednesday that it will change its face mask policy, making it a personal decision for passengers and employees to wear them on board.

This will only occur on services where international mask-wearing restrictions do not apply.

For the time being, it includes flights between Heathrow and Manchester, as well as Caribbean locations including Barbados, St Lucia, and Antigua.

Customers may be requested to wear a mask when boarding and disembarking flights, as well as at destination airports, according to the airline.

It emphasized that masks will be essential on travels to or from the United States until at least April 18.

Corneel Koster, Virgin Atlantic’s chief customer and operations officer, said the policy will be phased in over time. He urged travelers to be considerate of one another’s decisions.

Customers of British Airways (BA) will only be required to wear a facial covering on flights if the destination requires it as of Wednesday.

Jason Mahoney, BA’s chief operating officer, called the action “welcome” and “a great step forward.”

Jet2, a British airline and travel operator, loosened its regulations on facial coverings for flights to and from England and Northern Ireland earlier this month. Tui has been doing the same since Friday.

Michael O’Leary, the CEO of Ryanair, has stated that he hopes to see the use of required face masks phased out by April or May. He went on to say that the cabin crew had been contacted.

After two years of considerable disruption due to the epidemic, the aviation sector is expecting that the lifting of travel restrictions would usher in a bustling summer.

All visitors will be allowed to enter the UK without having to fill out a passenger location form or do Covid tests as of Friday.

Wherever they travel, vacationers will still need to be aware of and respect the regulations.

The resurgence of aviation “remains clouded by conflict and Covid uncertainty,” said Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye on Friday.

Last month, the airport’s passenger counts were still approximately 50% lower than pre-pandemic levels.

However, to meet demand during the summer season, the airport is hiring 12,000 people.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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