Ryanair and Easyjet passengers must wear face masks even after July 19
Ryanair and Easyjet passengers must continue to wear face masks on flights even after the law on wearing face masks in public places end on July 19.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that face coverings will no longer be a legal requirement in the fourth and final stage to ease England's lockdown, despite scientists appearing less certain about the ending of face mask rules.
However, he said guidance will suggest people might choose to do so in “enclosed and crowded places”.
Social distancing will also end, all remaining businesses will be able to reopen (including nightclubs), there will be no limits on social gatherings and the goverment will no longer instruct people to work from home.
The final easing of coronavirus restrictions is expected on July 19, with the government confirming the date after a review of the latest data on July 12.
Despite the government's decision, Ryanair has said it will continue to make face masks mandatory on flights.
The airline said in a statement: "In order to protect the health of our customers and crew, the use of face masks will still be mandatory across all Ryanair flights, regardless of the departing/destination country.”
Asked about its plans from July 19, Easyjet also said it currently has no plans to drop its requirement for passengers to wear face masks.
It 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 Organization), 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.”
Meanwhile, train industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said “wearing a mask helps protect others”, but said that the relaxation of the rules around their use indoors would apply to trains.
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It has however have pledged to “support” passengers who continue wearing face coverings if they become voluntary.
A spokesperson for the industry body said travelling by train is "low risk and carriages are well-ventilated" and so, trains should be "treated consistently with other indoor settings".
Trade union Unite, which represents tens of thousands of public transport workers, had previously called for face coverings to remain mandatory on public transport.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick suggested on Sunday that he would be ditching his face mask after July 19 Freedom Day.
Asked on Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme whether he would "get rid" of his mask, the Cabinet minister replied: “I will. I don’t particularly want to wear a mask. I don’t think a lot of people enjoy doing it.”
The success of the vaccine programme means the government can “move to a much more permissive regime”, he said.
He added: “I think we are now reaching a different phase in the virus. We are not going to put the Covid-19 virus behind us forever, we’re going to have to learn to live with it."
But leading doctors from the British Medical Association had been urging the government to keep some measures in place after July 19, including the requirement for face masks in enclosed public areas such as public transport and shops.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said keeping some protective measures in place was “crucial” to stop spiralling case numbers having a “devastating impact” on people’s health, the NHS, the economy and education.