British Airways has become the world’s first major airline to scrap masks on flights.
The flag carrier said that from Wednesday, face cover will only be required when a destination has its own “restrictions and legal requirements”, such as in the United States.
Virgin Atlantic added that it would gradually simplify its rules, starting with Caribbean flights from Heathrow and Manchester.
The news came hours after Transport Secretary Grant Shaps said ministers had decided to scrap all remaining travel rules from 4am on Friday.
Immigrants arriving in the UK do not need to fill out a passenger locator form or undergo any tests, regardless of their immunization status. The move means there will be no coronavirus restrictions in the UK for the first time in two years.
Heathrow, the UK’s largest airport, will also follow the rules of the mask, although the airport “strongly encourages” passengers to continue covering their faces, especially when in close contact with others.
Jason Mahoney, BA’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “As an international airline, we operate flights to many countries around the world, each with its own local restrictions and legal requirements.
“We are working through these and since Wednesday, March 16, customers will only have to cover their face on our flight if they are traveling to the destination if it is needed. Our customers are able to make a personal choice for the destination where covering the face is not mandatory. ”
The BA’s new policy is expected to clarify exactly how it will work and how passengers will be informed about the rules.
Last week, President Biden extended the U.S. federal mandate to require masks on public transport for at least another month until at least April 18.
Colonel Coster, Chief Operating Officer of Virgin Atlantic, said: “Since we have learned to live with Covid and have now been removed to England with the legal requirement to wear a face mask, we believe our customers should have a personal choice whether to wear a mask or not. On board, on routes where international rules for wearing masks do not apply.
“Across our network, we comply with all regulatory requirements in both the UK and the destination country, acknowledging that mask requirements vary by market.
“This policy will be rolled out gradually, starting with our Caribbean services from Heathrow and Manchester airports.”
The airline Tui Airways, the UK’s largest tour operator, said it was scrapping masks last week. Budget airline Jet2 changed their policy on 1 March.
The rules of the mask change at the airport. The Department of Transportation says operators are free to set their own rules, although more regional airports are expected to follow Heathrow’s lead.
Emma Giltherp, Heathrow’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “We are preparing for the busy summer travel season, and this change means we can look forward to welcoming our passengers with a smile as we take them away safely. “
Both Scotland and Wales will follow England to cancel all travel forms and tests, albeit annoyingly.
Welsh Health Minister Elunad Morgan said he was “extremely disappointed” with the decision but had no choice but to follow Wales’ “significant practical difficulties” associated with deviating from England.
The Scottish Government added that it had “reluctantly agreed” to align itself with England to protect its tourism industry.
Grant Shaps said the UK would take “the strictest possible measures” and avoid border restrictions if another coveted alternative emerged. Speaking at the Commons, he denied that the quarantine was the government’s “default approach” to changing the epidemic and returned to the red list.
He said: “Even if another form of anxiety emerges, next time we will respond differently. We have learned a lot during this epidemic and we will use that experience to respond in a more measured and more flexible way.
“For example, in the pre-epidemic period when quarantine hotels were eligible for red list arrivals, we are now standing below the remaining capacity.”