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Airmen shop at the commissary at RAF Lakenheath, England, Nov. 30, 2021. The country’s mask mandate is slated to end Jan. 27, but Air Force officials still are reviewing whether changes to the on-base mandate will be made.

Airmen shop at the commissary at RAF Lakenheath, England, Nov. 30, 2021. The country’s mask mandate is slated to end Jan. 27, but Air Force officials still are reviewing whether changes to the on-base mandate will be made. (Kyle Alvarez/Stars and Stripes)

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The Air Force in England is still deciding whether to change its coronavirus policies after the British government ends a mask mandate and relaxes other rules beginning Thursday.

Mask-wearing in crowded open-air and indoor public spaces, such as subways and shops, will be recommended but not required, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Jan. 19 in an address to the House of Commons.

Social distancing requirements, limits on gatherings and a legal mandate that people show a National Health Service COVID-19 pass or its equivalent for entry to venues will also end.

These changes apply to England only, and local government legislation may vary in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Detailed information is available at http://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Though some coronavirus policy updates are expected, there haven’t been any yet at RAF Mildenhall, 100th Air Refueling Wing spokesman Capt. Tyler Whiting told Stars and Stripes.

“Guidance may change in the future shortly,” Whiting said. “Our leaders are constantly evaluating the policy.”

A Jan. 7 command memo applying to all RAF Mildenhall airmen states that U.S. personnel are required to follow U.K. guidance, unless the rules in the memo are more restrictive.

The rules include wearing masks and continuing to maintain a social distance of 6 feet when indoors and outdoors for those who haven’t been fully vaccinated, with few exceptions.

Guidance also remains the same at RAF Lakenheath, where masks are required at the post office, dining and lodging facilities and at the fitness center, except for people who are actively exercising.

During his speech to parliament, Johnson also said his government would stop encouraging employers to have nonessential employees work from home. They would also drop the legal requirement to self-isolate for people infected with the virus when quarantine regulations expire March 24.

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Alexander reports on the U.S. military and local news in Europe for Stars and Stripes in Kaiserslautern, Germany. He has 10 years experience as an Air Force photojournalist covering operations in Timor-Leste, Guam and the Middle East. He graduated from Penn State University and is a Defense Information School alumnus.
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