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Face masks to remain at airports and on flights despite July 19 relaxation

Air passengers will still be required to wear face masks at airports and on flights from Monday despite the UK government relaxation of the legal requirement to wear face coverings.

UK airports and airlines confirmed the requirement will remain a condition of carriage  from July 19.

Face coverings will be needed upon entering an airport and until a journey is completed. The current exemptions for children and people with underlying health conditions will remain.

But passengers refusing to wear face coverings without a medical reason will be denied boarding.

In a joint statement, Iata, Airlines UK, the Airport operators Association (AOA) and UK Board of Airline Representatives (BAR-UK) confirmed: “Passengers will be requested to help fellow travellers and airport and airline staff by taking this measure . .  Where necessary the requirement will be enforced through denial of boarding.”

They said the requirement would stay in place “in line with government guidance and international requirements”.

The statement noted: “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 the ‘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 areas where social distancing is not always possible.”

The statement added: “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 will be reviewed as the health situation evolves.”

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