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BA, Virgin and Heathrow to drop mask mandate on Wednesday, all UK restrictions end Friday

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British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow Airport have announced an end to compulsory mask wearing from Wednesday, following the Government’s announcement that all UK travel restrictions will end on Friday.

Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, tweeted yesterday afternoon that:

“All remaining Covid travel measures, including the Passenger Locator Form and tests for all arrivals, will be stood down for travel to the UK from 4am on 18 March. These changes are possible due to our vaccine rollout and mean greater freedom in time for Easter.”

All UK travel restrictions to end on Friday, including Passenger Locator Forms

The key winners here are unvaccinated travellers, who will no longer need to take any tests on returning to the UK. This was an inevitable consequence of removing the Passenger Locator Form.

British Airways to end mask wearing from Wednesday

British Airways has announced an end to mask wearing on its aircraft where allowed by law. This will begin on Wednesday.

Cabin crew will continue to wear masks, and passengers will need to continue to wear them where required, such as when flying to – but not from – the United States and to some European countries.

BA said:

“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.”

Heathrow will end mask wearing on Wednesday

Heathrow has also announced an end to mask wearing in the terminal, which will also kick in from Wednesday.

Gatwick has not yet made any announcement.

Virgin Atlantic will reportedly end mask wearing on Wednesday

Heathrow Airport has stated in its press release that Virgin Atlantic has also agreed to drop masks from Wednesday. The airline has not confirmed this.

I am seeing Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss on Tuesday morning so we will see what he has to say.

Reaction to the end of UK travel restrictions

In response to Grant Shapps’s announcement, Virgin Atlantic said in a statement:

“The removal of all remaining UK travel restrictions, including the Passenger Locator Form, is the final important step towards frictionless air travel, helping to further restore consumer confidence as we welcome more customers back to the skies this Spring and Summer. With these barriers to travel removed, Britain is open for business and passengers can reconnect with loved ones and business colleagues once again. To uphold the experience of all travellers, it’s vital that the UK Government works closely with industry to ensure the UK border is ready for increasing passengers, as international travel ramps up.”

Airlines UK, the trade body for UK aviation, said:

“Today’s announcement sends a clear message to the world – the UK travel sector is back. With travellers returning to the UK no longer burdened by unnecessary forms and testing requirements, we can now look forward to the return to pre-Covid normality throughout the travel experience.

“We’re grateful for the timing of the announcement as we prepare to welcome back passengers this Easter and Summer, for which we know there is huge pent-up demand, and for the UK’s leadership in being the first major aviation market to remove all remaining restrictions. The time to return to the skies – to enjoy all that makes aviation and international travel great, for families and businesses – is now.”

Whilst many countries have removed maks mandates on the ground, British Airways is the first major international airline to announce that masks need not be worn if not required by local law. It remains to be seen if this will be a popular or unpopular move when it comes to selling tickets.

Comments (252)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • SEGUN says:

    What about the PCR departure test ,

  • Andrew J says:

    Great to be able to enjoy the T3 lounges without faffing about with masks now. Might need to book a quick Saturday nighter somewhere.

  • Jill ( Kinkell) says:

    I’m a good wee law abiding Scot, wearing my mask to shop, on public transport , entering a cafe etc. I even have to wear it going into the gym…..then I get to take it off, huff and puff vigorously with 25 others for an hour, put mask back on to then leave gym! I’m now on day 8 self isolating, no early release either. It’s the sheer inconsistency and bonkers decisions that I object to.

    • Spurs drive me mad says:

      Jill you should have eaten a pork pie instead of the gym you would have been fine then. 🙄 bonkers about sums it up.

    • NorthernLass says:

      Better promoting of vitamin d supplements would probably help sun-starved northerners more than masks – and plenty of studies to prove it!

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Pubs, restaurants, gyms etc are ridiculous places to ask people to wear a mask there is 0 science behind asking people to wear a mask while standing not sitting or to walk in or out. Complete utter nonsense.

      The science around wearing them outside is even weaker.

    • JerrySignfield says:

      Sorry to hear the masks failed you

  • Martin says:

    As someone whose travel is greatly restricted by an operation I cannot get due to hospitals being full of Covid patients, I am totally disgusted at the self obsessed folk on here who regard being asked to wear a mask as onerous.

    Typical right wing stuff, never a complaint about freedom and airport security, POTA with its must tell plod your password stuff etc.

    • Anna says:

      Are you calling arch mask-sceptic Piers Corbyn and his mates right wing, Martin?! I get pretty disgusted with people who put politics ahead of all else. Clearly mask rules didn’t help those people who are in hospital.

      • Martin says:

        Lenin (I think) had a phrase, “Useful idiots”.

        Masks help those who are not in hospital or ill at home. Like-wise vaccinations, That is how preventative medicine works.

    • JerrySignfield says:

      Sounds exaggerated.

  • Ann-Marie Stanley says:

    Can someone check the post by HfP as pretty sure flights to and from the USA still require a mask

  • Luke says:

    So normal working day for me today:

    Commute by car, stop at motorway services for coffee, work at institution where I meet literally hundreds of different people for the rest of the day as per every day

    Mark usage is around 5%

    Is this not the case everywhere? Or do people on this forum live under the stairs and only leave their house under cover of darkness?

    • Rui N. says:

      I doubt most people here meet hundreds of people every day. They might be dozing off at a few Teams/Zoom calls though.

    • Mike says:

      Lucky “Mark” only getting used for 5% of the day

  • Tony says:

    Well these comments have been a fun read. Everyone’s an expert. For what its worth, I was in California for a week early March and mask wearing was ubiquitous. Mostly voluntary from what I can see – almost 100% in indoor environments. Here in the UK, I’m seeing less and less ask wearing – less than 25% indoors.

    • Andrew J says:

      I would estimate it’s under 5% now in London.

    • K says:

      The US is quite conformist on such matters. Rem they don’t have ‘Policing’ like us, they have ‘Law Enforcement’.

  • Zoe says:

    I am happy to pop a mask on whilst in the local shop where older people are wearing them and collecting their pension. It might make no difference to their risk but if it makes them more comfortable it’s not a big sacrifice for me to make. Surely we teach our children to be kind and respect others and should try to do the same?

    • Ben says:

      Given the actions of those older people politically has been to do their best to screw over anyone under the age of 50, I don’t think anyone is taught to respect others these days.

      • Anna says:

        Totally agree, Zoe, I will always wear one when asked.
        Ben, do you want to re-read your comment and ask yourself why that age group might appear to have little respect for people who make such sweeping and uninformed statements?

      • Mike says:

        Ben – not true BREXIT granted you the freedom from the EU. I respect your right not to be thankful.

        • J says:

          How so? All I see is a load more paperwork, and having to follow rules we now have no vote on.

      • Zoe says:

        Ben you seem keen to group people together . I am over 50 definitely didn’t vote for Brexit and persuaded my Grandmother in her 90’s not to either. Of course you are entitled to your views even when they might not agree with mine.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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