On Monday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson shared the steps towards “freedom day”, revealing his plans to axe the face mask mandate across the UK. However, budget carrier easyJet has said it currently has no plans to follow this onboard flights.
Instead, the Luton-based carrier says it will keep its mask rule for passengers as long as relevant health experts and “key industry governing bodies”.
In a statement, an easyJet spokesperson said: “At present, there are no changes to easyJet’s onboard mask policy and we will continue to keep this under review.
“We continue to be guided by our inhouse medical adviser and a number of key industry governing bodies that airlines follow including the WHO (World Health Organisation), Icao (International Civil Aviation Organisation), Easa (European Union Aviation Safety Agency), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and public health authorities across Europe, and at present their guidance around the wearing of masks onboard remains unchanged.”
easyJet’s current rules state: “Wearing a face mask on easyJet flights is mandatory for all passengers aged six years and older and crew, and you’ll not be permitted to board if you arrive at the gate without one.
“You’ll also be required to wear a mask to enter and travel through the airport terminal at your departure and arrival airport.”
Passengers who are exempt from wearing a face mask must “bring a signed doctor’s letter or medical certificate with you to the airport” when travelling.
easyJet explains this must “state that you’re exempt from wearing a face mask.”
It adds: “This must have your name on it, the details of the medical practice and also, be dated within the last 12 months.
“We do not accept downloadable exemption certificates or lanyards.
“This helps to ensure that you, our crew and all of our passengers can travel comfortably and confidently throughout the journey.”
easyJet only accepts FFP2 or equivalent certified masks, surgical masks or cloth masks.
It explains: “It’s important that the masks we wear provide the best possible protection. That’s why we’re no longer allowing scarves, face visors or masks with valves.
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“If your mask isn’t suitable, you may be refused travel.”
Face mask rules also apply to staff and crew.
The decision follows in the footsteps of fellow European carrier Ryanair, which has also said face masks will remain a requirement for passengers onboard.
“In order to protect the health of our passengers and crew, the use of face masks will still be mandatory across all Ryanair flights, regardless of the departing/destination country,” a spokeswoman for Ryanair told the BBC.
Addressing the nation on Monday evening, the Prime Minister says the UK is on track to lift its face mask and social distancing mandates.
“If we can’t reopen our society in the next few weeks when we will be helped by the arrival of summer and the school holidays, we must ask ourselves ‘when will we be able to reopen?’” he said during the briefing at Downing Street.
If his plans go ahead on July 19, this would mean mask-wearing in many places would become voluntary.
However, even Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said he will continue to “carry a mask”.
He told Sky News: “For the foreseeable future I will be carrying a face mask because it is the sensible thing to do.”
Along with masks onboard, airlines, such as easyJet, are likely to continue many of the Covid safety measures which were put in place to combat the pandemic.
For easyJet this means heightened cleaning measures onboard.
Passengers must also handle their own luggage and are encouraged to minimise contact with surfaces throughout their journey.
Author: Aimee Robinson
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