From Monday 19th July, in line with government guidance and international requirements, passengers can expect to be required to wear a face mask at UK airports and onboard aircraft.
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Airports and airlines will continue to take every measure possible to ensure health is protected, including enhanced cleaning and social distancing where possible. Face masks will remain an essential element of these measures and will be required for both international and domestic flights.
This is in line with regulation and guidance in place across the UK and internationally. In Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales face masks continue to be mandated by the devolved governments. In England, UK Government guidance states that “Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas, such as public transport”. Globally, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) recommends the use of masks for air travel.
This reflects the fact that airports and aircraft are by nature areas where social distancing is not always possible. Furthermore, international travel generally retains additional layers of protection, such as pre-departure Covid testing and restrictions on arrivals from ‘Red’ countries to protect public health.
The need for face masks in air travel reflects the current epidemiological situation in the UK and internationally and will be reviewed as the health situation evolves.
The necessity for face masks will start at the entrance to the airport until the journey is completed, subject to local requirements at the destination. Current exemptions will remain the same, including for children and people with an underlying health condition.
In England, the requirement for face masks will typically be incorporated into Conditions of Carriage and/or airport byelaws but will be expected of passengers even where this is not the case.
Passengers will be requested to help their fellow travelers and airport and airline staff by taking this measure but where necessary the requirement would be enforced through denial of boarding.
The UK Government guidance is available here
and the ICAO guidelands are here