When England’s masking regulations are repealed next week, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have announced that they would continue to require customers to wear face masks on all of their flights.
The government has advised firms that any local mask mandate should be examined on a regular basis and removed as soon as possible.’
British Airways said in a statement that it flies to many areas where masking regulations still apply and that it is required to follow the laws and policies of the countries in which it operates.
The airline may no longer require passengers to wear face masks on domestic flights within the United Kingdom, but a British Airways representative stated the airline has no plans to do so at this time. BA said in an emailed statement:
“We have no immediate plans to change our mask policy, but keep our policies under review and continue to take advice and guidance from all the appropriate authorities. “
“The safety and security of our customers and colleagues is always our first priority,” the statement read.
Virgin Atlantic also said it would keep reviewing its pandemic health precautions and “work together across the industry to evaluate when modifications may be made.”
“However until further notice, we will require all customers and crew to continue to wear face masks for the duration of their flights, as well as at the airports,” the airline told.
As the government returns to its Plan A pandemic response, England will eliminate all mandatory masking requirements on Thursday, January 27th. Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said people would still be advised to conceal their faces around strangers in crowded and enclosed areas, but that it would be a personal choice.
While Javid urged the public to stay cautious in the face of COVID-19, he also stated that the government is looking at ways to eliminate the legal need that people who test positive for the virus to self-isolate.
When the legal necessity to wear a mask in public settings was suspended for three months last summer, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic kept their mask policies. When pandemic restrictions were lifted across the area in October, Scandi airlines, including SAS, soon withdrew onboard mask bans.
The loosening of limitations was short-lived, however, since the Omicron surge pushed governments to reimpose mask regulations.
Even before the Omicron crisis, 83 percent of passengers questioned by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) indicated they strongly favored in-flight masking laws, with an even larger majority saying they welcomed strict enforcement.’
Support for in-flight masking came with one major stipulation: masks must be removed as quickly as feasible.