Following a thorough assessment of the policy, British Airways has announced that it would no longer require passengers to wear face masks on all eligible flights beginning March 16th. The airline’s apparent reversal came after both Jet2 and TUI Airways stated that masking regulations will be removed.
Face masks, on the other hand, will continue to be required on routes where the destination country demands them by law. The United States is the largest country where this is the case, with the federal face mask regulation being prolonged until April 18 at the earliest.
Passengers may also be required to wear a protective FFP2 (KN95) mask rather than a cloth face-covering in other destinations, such as Italy. Passengers flying with BA, like Jet2 and TUI, may be required to wear a mask when boarding or landing in countries where face mask regulations still apply.
Face mask regulations were repealed in England in January, but British Airways claimed at the time that it had no “immediate plans” to do so because it was compelled to follow the standards of the many countries it served.
The British government did, however, warn the aviation industry that masking laws must be evaluated on a regular basis and lifted as soon as possible.
“Keeping our colleagues and customers safe at all times is always our number one priority, and during the pandemic we followed the advice of the UK Government and Health Protection Agencies, introducing new measures to make sure we were able to continue to operate during the most challenging period in our history,” wrote BA’s chief operating officer Jason Mahoney in an internal memo on Monday.
“The legal requirement to wear a face-covering has been removed in England and Wales, and for the past few weeks we’ve been considering our position, considering the complexity of our operation,” the memo continued.
Despite an increase in everyday infections and hospitalizations, UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced on Monday that the government’s stance would not alter.
Heathrow Airport will convert to a face mask optional policy on the same day as BA lifts its face mask compulsion. The airport maintained its mask requirement since it serves transfer passengers from all over the world who may anticipate being required to wear masks.