London Heathrow Airport (LHR) is dropping the requirement for travelers to wear face masks. The main carriers using the airport, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, are also changing their policies.  

From March 16, 2022, those traveling through Britain’s largest airport will no longer have to wear a face covering in the terminals and public transport stations of LHR, the operator announced.  

“The removal of the mandatory requirement reflects society’s move towards learning to live with COVID longer term. It is now possible because of the continued strong protection provided by vaccination programmes around the world,” Heathrow Airport said in a statement on March 15, 2022.  

While there is no longer a firm requirement to do so, the operator said it still “strongly encourages” travelers at the airport to continue wearing a mask, especially when coming into close contact with others. It also said it will not hesitate to re-introduce a mask mandate should COVID-19 cases rise, or a new variant of concern develop.  

Britain has eased most of its COVID-19 restrictions, with Transport Minister Grant Shapps announcing that all remaining travel measures, including the Passenger Locator Form and tests for all arrivals, will be scrapped for travel to the UK from 4am on March 18, 2022.   

“These changes are possible due to our vaccine rollout and mean greater freedom in time for Easter,” Shapps commented.  

Virgin Atlantic said in the statement that face masks will no longer be compulsory on some of its routes from March 16, starting with its services to the Caribbean from LHR and Manchester (MAN).  

British Airways said from March 16, passengers will only be required to wear a face mask on board flights if the destination requires it.  

Heathrow, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways all said masks would still be available to those who wanted to continue wearing them and urged travelers to respect each other’s choices.  

“We know some passengers may feel vulnerable, and we are encouraging colleagues to be respectful and put on a face covering when near a passenger who requests it,” the airport operator said.  

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Passenger numbers at London Heathrow fell to 1972 levels in 2021, in what the operator described as its worst year in history