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As America Extends Face Mask Mandate, British Carriers Put Coverings Down

Two British carriers say they will no longer make face coverings a requirement for passengers, as London Heathrow Airport now “strongly encourages” mask usage when flying.
Although Americans will still be required to wear face coverings on commercial flights, travelers on two British airlines will only be “strongly encouraged” to use them as concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic wain.


The Washington Post reports British Airways and Virgin Atlantic will drop the face mask requirements in April 2022, following a move by London Heathrow Airport (LHR).


Face Masks Remain “Strongly Encouraged” as COVID-19 Threat Remains

Among the latest rounds of changes among British stakeholders, Heathrow was the first to drop the face mask requirement. Starting on Wednesday, March 17, 2022, those entering the airport will no longer be forced to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth. However, the airport continues to “strongly recommend” all flyers do so, as the threat of COVID-19 remains.


The move was quickly followed by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, who both announced they would take the same stance for those aboard their aircraft. However, it doesn’t mean that everyone will be able to fly mask-free on all routes. Spokespersons for both carriers acknowledged that passengers would still need to wear face coverings to and from routes where they were still legally required. This includes flights aboard both to and from the United States.


All the changes come as the British government is dropping all their previous control protocols, welcoming flyers without any restrictions. The Travel Ministry dropped testing COVID testing requirements for vaccinated flyers in February 2022, while passenger locator forms and arrival testing will be dropped by March 18. All quarantine capacity at hotels will be returned back to the properties by the end of March.


U.S. Extends Face Covering Requirement Through April 18, 2022

While Britain is ending the masking requirement, those in the U.S. will have to wait a little longer before dropping their coverings. The Transportation Security Administration extended the face covering rule through April 18, 2022, as the agency works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other stakeholders to “help inform a revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor.”

Emma1420 March 17, 2022

I suspect the US will keep the mask mandates in place until there is a vaccine available for the kids aged 6 months to 5. Once there is a vaccine available for almost every major age group that might be traveling I think they will drop masking.  

gnaget March 17, 2022

So this means that if you fly from the US to the UK on BA or Virgin then masks will not be required? But unfortunately not in the other direction until at least April 18. 

AADFW March 16, 2022

So the US Senate just yesterday approved a resolution to end this nonsense, but it must get through the House where it faces a bigger challenge. Plus it would likely need to overcome a presidential veto. 

Scorpio506 March 16, 2022

Interesting that after two years of dealing with SARS-CoV-2 there are still idiots who say "masks don't do anything". How much more stupid can it get?

Aloha1 March 16, 2022

The people have moved on. Time for the politicians to do the same. End this.