British Airways, Ryanair, and More Airlines Plan to Keep Mask Mandate Even After UK Lifts Requirements
Several British airlines plan to continue requiring masks on board even after the United Kingdom lifts face-covering requirements later this month.
On July 19, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country will lift most COVID-19-related restrictions like capacity limits and allow all businesses — including nightclubs — to reopen. Additionally, the UK will no longer require people to wear masks.
"As we come to the fourth step, we have to balance the risks," Johnson said in a news conference, adding, "We will end... the legal obligation to wear a face covering, although guidance will suggest where you might choose to do so, especially when cases are rising and where you come into contact with people you don't normally meet in enclosed spaces such as, obviously, crowded public transport."
But while the UK will no longer mandate travelers wear masks, British Airways told Travel + Leisure the pandemic-era staple isn't going away so fast.
"While we keep our policies under constant review, the safety of our customers and colleagues is always our priority, and we have no immediate plans to change our mask policy," a British Airways spokesman told T+L. "We will continue to take advice and guidance from all the appropriate authorities."
Ryanair, which is based in Ireland, told T L it will continue to require masks as well. And EasyJet, which mostly flies within Europe, has made a similar declaration, according to The Sun.
"In line with… guidelines and in order to protect the health of our customers and crew, the use of face masks will still be mandatory across all Ryanair flights, regardless of the departing/destination country," a representative for Ryanair told T L.
The lifting of COVID-19 restrictions comes a month after the country initially planned to open back up, preferring to wait until more people were vaccinated. In the UK, 86.2% of people 18 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine and 64.3% have received a second dose, according to the government.
When it comes to travel, the UK has said it intends to ease quarantine restrictions for vaccinated residents heading home from "amber" countries, including the U.S. and several other countries in Europe. That could also happen as soon as July 19, the Daily Mail reported.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.