Heathrow & Gatwick Airports to keep face mask rule when Government lifts mandate next week

Stephen Barclay insists face mask guidance is not 'inconsistent'

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England’s two biggest airports, Heathrow and Gatwick, have confirmed they will continue to enforce strict face mask rules within terminal buildings from next week. On Monday, July 19, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed mask regulations will no longer be a legal obligation.

However, certain transport bodies are able to put in place their own specifications for travellers.

As such, Heathrow and Gatwick Airport have made the decision to maintain an obligation for passengers and workers to wear appropriate face coverings when in buildings.

The flight hubs say this is in line with Government guidance, which “recommends” people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as on public transport.

A spokesperson from Heathrow Airport told Sky News: “Airports are unique environments with an international passenger profile.

“This is why face coverings were mandatory at Heathrow before the government made them a legal requirement and they will continue to be mandatory at the airport after July 19 as part of a multi-layered array of Covid-secure measures to ensure we protect our passengers, our colleagues and rebuild confidence in travel.”

Currently, Heathrow Airport explains on its website that all people aged 11 and over are expected to wear a face mask.

The airport adds: “We also ask passengers to respect social distancing where possible.”

These measures will remain in place moving forward.

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Gatwick Airport says it too will maintain these regulations in place.

“The airport will continue to ask passengers to wear face coverings throughout the terminal buildings and all staff will also wear face coverings in public areas,” a spokesperson told Express.co.uk.

“This will however be advisory as – from July 19 – the legal requirement to wear face coverings ends and Government guidance is that: ‘Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport’.”

Luton City Airport has also followed suit, with a spokesperson agreeing face masks will remain an expectation for those departing and arriving through terminals, as well as staff and crew.

A spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “In line with other airports and transport operators, passengers and staff will still be required to wear face coverings while in the terminal.”

They additionally told The Evening Standard: “All staff will continue to wear issued PPE, which includes face masks.

“We also ask our passengers to maintain a safe personal space when travelling through the airport and, for the time being, to wear a face mask at all times.”

Speaking on Monday, Boris Johnson confirmed he was planning on a gradual return to normality.

However, he encouraged people to continue to “wear face masks in crowded and enclosed spaces”.

The PM urged people to “proceed with caution”.

In an address, he said: “I cannot say this powerfully or emphatically enough: this pandemic is not over.

“Coronavirus continues to carry risks for you and your family.

“We cannot simply revert instantly from Monday, July 19 to life as it was before Covid.”

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