British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are the first two major airlines to make mask wearing optional for both passengers and crew, effective today Wednesday March 16.

The two UK-based airlines made the announcement in a statement which was issued by London’s Heathrow Airport on Monday.

According to the statement, British Airways customers will only need to wear a face covering on board flights if their destination requires it, while Virgin Atlantic said it will be ‘gradually’ removing compulsory mask rules from Wednesday, starting with Caribbean flights from London and Manchester. 

“Heathrow’s home carriers British Airways and Virgin Atlantic welcomed the move, signalling that they were preparing to follow suit by dropping the face covering requirement onboard their aircraft as soon as regulatory requirements for their destinations allow. We encourage passengers to check onboard face covering requirements with their airlines before travelling,” the release stated.

The news comes in conjunction with the move by Heathrow Airport to discontinue the mask wearing requirement for travelling passengers.

 “Those travelling through Heathrow will no longer be required to wear a face covering after the airport announced that it is moving away from a mandate from Wednesday 16 March,” the media statement said.

Meanwhile, UK’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Monday that the changes will allow “greater freedom in time for Easter” and will mean that persons “can travel just like in the good old days”.