Heathrow relaxes the need to wear face masks
Heathrow has announced that it will no longer be compulsory to wear face coverings in any of its terminals, rail stations or office buildings from tomorrow.
Hub carrier, British Airways, and fellow UK airline, Virgin Atlantic, welcomed the move, and have indicated that they will be revising their onboard face covering policies as well.
The airport notes that its change in policy “comes amid continued success of the vaccination programme and as society learns to live with COVID longer-term”.
It is, however, quick to point out that an extensive array of other COVID-secure measures remain in place and face coverings will be available at the airport for those wanting to wear them.
And in recognition that the pandemic is not over, Heathrow strongly encourages those at the airport to continue wearing a face covering – particularly when coming into close contact with others – although this will no longer be a firm requirement.
The change mirrors steps taken by other transport organisations in the UK, and applies across all of Heathrow’s terminals, bus and railway stations and office spaces.
Face coverings will remain available at the airport to support those who wish to continue wearing them.
Commenting on the decision, Heathrow’s chief operating officer, Emma Gilthorpe, said: “We have worked hard to keep our passengers and colleagues safe during the pandemic. We acted quickly to institute face coverings as one of our first lines of defence, and we’re pleased that we’re now able to move away from a mandatory requirement as society learns to live with COVID longer term.
“While we still recommend wearing them, we can be confident the investments we’ve made in COVID-secure measures – some of which aren’t always visible – combined with the fantastic protection provided by the vaccine will continue to keep people safe while travelling.
“We’re gearing up for a busy summer travel season, and this change means we can look forward to welcoming our passengers back with a smile as we get them safely away on their journeys.”
British Airways’ chief operating officer, Jason Mahoney, commented: “We welcome this as a really positive step forward. As an international airline we fly to a large number of countries around the world, all of which have their own local restrictions and legal requirements.
“We’re working through these and from Wednesday March 16, customers will only be required to wear a face covering on board our flights if the destination they’re travelling to requires it.
“For destinations where the wearing of a face covering is not mandated, our customers are able to make a personal choice, and we kindly request everyone respects each other’s preferences.”