Will masks on planes and airports become a thing of the past? That reality is among us, at least in some cases.
It came as a big reveal on Monday when two major British airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways, announced that they would be dropping their mask mandate for passengers on flights where the arrival destination doesn’t require them. The decision is set to go into effect on Wednesday, March 16th.
And on the same day, London Heathrow International will also drop its mask mandate that currently applies throughout the airport.
London Heathrow Officially Removing Mask Requirement This Week
Even though having a major transport hub remove its mask requirement is a considerable shift from the previous two years of pandemic travel, officials at Heathrow reminded travelers to remain vigilant.
They emphasized that while mask-wearing will no longer be required, the use of them is still strongly recommended.
“Effective from Wednesday 16 March, we’ll remove the requirement for wearing face coverings at the airport. We still strongly encourage both colleagues and passengers to wear them, particularly when they come into close contact with others, but this will no longer be mandatory,” as stated on the London Heathrow official Twitter page on Monday.
“Passengers may still be required to wear a face covering onboard their flight and should check the airlines’ requirements before traveling.”
England Dropping All Entry Requirements
Monday’s announcement by transport officials in London is in line with England dropping all of its Covid-related restrictions and requirements, including its mask mandate, which is scheduled to come into effect on on the morning of March 18th local time.
As England becomes the 14th nation to remove all Covid-related entry requirements, travelers will no longer have to follow up with Covid testing, passenger locator forms and proof of vaccination paperwork.
All new travel rules will apply to international arrivals to England, but please note that the update does not apply to travelers to Scotland and Wales.
The Use Of Masks Will Remain Mandatory For Travel To Destinations That Require It
This week’s news has also revealed that certain airlines are now edging on the side of some elements of pre-pandemic travel. However, the guidance for one airline or airport does not extend to the travel rules of neighboring destinations, at least for now.
The details of the updated travel rules mean that while passengers will not be required to mask up on certain flights with the above airlines, they will continue to be required for inbound travelers to destinations that continue to keep mask mandates in place.
These rules will apply to a number of travelers, including those flying on one of the main routes on British Airways between London and the United States.
Just last week, the TSA (the U.S. Transportation Security Administration) extended the mask mandate for flights and airports until at least April 18th, which means that travelers will still be required to wear masks during flights to the US as well as upon landing and transiting through the airport.
Other British Airlines Dropping Mask Requirements For Some Travel
The announcement of Britain’s two major airlines dropping their mask requirement this week follows the decision of other local airlines, Jet2 and TUI, both which removed their mask mandates for travelers two weeks ago.
The low-cost airline Jet2 actually became the first airline in the UK to remove its mask requirement.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories