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England Could Become First Country to Let Airline Passengers Ditch Face Masks

England Could Become First Country to Let Airline Passengers Ditch Face Masks

England is poised to become the first major country to ditch face mask rules for airline passengers after government ministers said they wanted to return to normality with a “much more permissive regime” that will encourage personal responsibility and commonsense over government rules.

The easing of face mask rules could come on July 19 on what is being called Freedom Day when a slew of COVID-19 regulations like enforced social distancing and work from home orders are set to be rolled back.

Reinholds Nulle /

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also set to approve the lifting of mandatory face mask rules in crowded public places like supermarkets and pubs despite objections from some experts that have been advising the government, as well as doctors groups who want “targeted” interventions to continue for the foreseeable future.

Despite an “alarming” rise in infection numbers, Johnson and his cabinet remain confident that the UK’s much-lauded vaccination programme has successfully broken the link between infections and hospitalisations and deaths.

According to the latest government statistics, over 85 per cent of the British adult population have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and over 63 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Johnson is yet to announce exactly what Freedom Day will entail in the next few days with the possibility that some restrictions might remain in place. On Sunday morning, however, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said government plans to drop nearly all pandemic rules were “looking positive”.

“It does seem as if we can now move forward and move to a much more permissive regime where we move away from many of those restrictions that have been so difficult and learn to live with the virus,” Jenrick told Sky News.

Other measures that look set to be dropped include checking-in at bars, cafes and restaurants, domestic vaccine passports and the need for fully vaccinated people to self-isolate if they come into contact with a positive case.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has cautioned against an “all or nothing” approach and has asked Boris Johnson to keep some rules in place – including face masks in certain circumstances.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also urged keeping face mask rules in place, even for people who are fully vaccinated, because of the risk posed by the highly infectious Delta variant.

So while there has been no confirmation from the government, there is the possibility that Johnson might keep face mask rules in place for public transport and passenger planes. British carriers will also need to comply with face mask rules imposed by other countries and will be allowed to keep their own rules in place if they choose.

Many passengers may also feel safer continuing to wear a face mask even if they are not obliged to do so. Especially given the fact that social distancing on planes never occurred been at the height of the pandemic.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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