Those travelling through Heathrow will no longer be required to wear a face mask after the airport announced that it is moving away from a mandate from tomorrow.
In recognition that the pandemic is not over, however, Heathrow said it still strongly encourages those at the airport to continue wearing a face covering – particularly when coming into close contact with others.
This, though, will no longer be a firm requirement.
The change mirrors steps taken by other transport organisations in the UK, and applies across all terminals, bus and railway stations and office spaces.
Commenting on the change, Heathrow 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-19 longer term.
“While we still recommend wearing them, we can be confident the investments we’ve made in Covid-19-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.”
Heathrow’s home carriers, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, welcomed the move, signalling that they were preparing to follow suit by dropping the face covering requirement onboard their aircraft as soon as regulatory requirements for their destinations allow.
Corneel Koster, chief operating officer at Virgin Atlantic, said: “Throughout the pandemic we’ve reviewed our Covid-19 measures, with the health and safety of our customers and people remaining Virgin Atlantic’s number one priority.
“As we learn to live with Covid and with the legal requirement to wear a face mask now removed in England, we believe our customers should have the personal choice whether to wear a mask onboard, on routes where international regulations around mask-wearing do not apply.
“This policy will be introduced gradually, beginning with our Caribbean services from Heathrow and Manchester airports and we encourage everyone to be respectful of fellow passengers’ mask preferences.”
Masks will still be required on many routes, including flights operating to or from the United States until April 18th at the earliest.