Line of Duty writer Jed Mercurio sparked debate on Twitter after suggesting flight attendants not forcing people to wear face coverings on a British Airways plane were ‘to blame’ if production of seris 6 of the hit show gets shut down.
Taking to social media yesterday afternoon, the Mercurio, 54, expressed his outrage that cabin crew would not challenge two maskless people in the row behind him when he was flying to Belfast.
He said a British Airways staff member told him the organisation does not require proof of medical exemption for not wearing a mask and as a result do ‘they don’t challenge non-compliance as anyone can claim exemption.’
The script writer was on a flight to Belfast where he was planning to self-isolate before resuming filming of hit series Line of Duty.
He said: ‘So I’m on a @British_Airways flight to Belfast to self-isolate before resuming filming of #LineOfDuty and the two passengers in the row behind aren’t wearing masks and the flight attendant won’t challenge them. If we have to shut down again, you know who to blame.’
To further explain the situation he added: ‘Some comments re medical exemption. BA staff were unaware if these passengers were exempt because none had asked at the gate or during boarding.
‘The flight attendant advised that, since BA don’t require proof, they don’t challenge non-compliance as anyone can claim exemption.’
In response to his claims, British Airways told Femail: ‘We require all customers to wear a face mask at all times while on board.
‘The safety of our customers and colleagues is always our first priority, and we work closely with the relevant authorities to adhere to international government requirements.
His tweet resulted in a lengthy debate, with some Twitter users suggesting it was not the role of plane staff to enforce mask-wearing rules, while others argued the cabin crew are there to ‘ensure that all health and safety procedures are adhered to’.
James Lee questioned why it was the responsibility of airline staff to challenge non-mask wearers.
‘They should be challenged before they even step foot on the flight, this would eliminate issues such as this. Attendants aren’t there to police,’ he added.
In response, Twitter user Mari said it was the staff’s job to adhere to health and safety regulations onboard flights and suggested ensuring all passengers were wearing masks fell under that role.
The airline’s website states: ‘If a customer qualifies for an exemption we do not expect them to wear a mask, however we strongly recommend they carry an exemption card, badge or sign to avoid being asked about their exemption status at various points in the journey.’
Several people waded in on the debate to add their belief that people who are unable to wear masks, even for short-haul flights, should not be allowed to do so.
Twitter user Sarah added that British Airways had assured her that masks would be worn by all passengers on her flight and said she would refuse to sit next to someone who did not wish to wear one.
Val Plant questioned BA directly and asked the organisation to confirm their policy for mask wearing onboard flights.
In response, the company’s social media team said: ‘We require you to wear a face mask on board at all times.
‘However, the UK Government has provided a list of exemptions and we would not require these passengers to wear one.’
Meanwhile vice president of Lib Dem Women Liz Jarvis said people should be forced to wear masks unless they have a medical reason not to, and noted wearing a mask should be ‘as natural as fastening your seatbelt’.
Others gave reasons for why the passengers may have opted to not wear masks, such as Osiris Rage who said they may have asthma or anxiety.
However, Mercurio noted the staff on the flight never asked the passengers why they were not wearing a mask so it was not clear if they were choosing not to or if they had a medical exemption.
In support of his claims, Andy Dillon said he experienced a similar situation while on a flight to Belfast from Bristol in which one passenger took his mask off before people around him asked him to put it back on.