Face coverings must still be worn on the London transport network despite restrictions easing on the 19th of July, London’s mayor says
Sadiq Khan said that he was not yet prepared to put Tube, bus and other transport users at risk by relaxing the coronavirus rules on face coverings.
Face masks had previously been mandatory on public transport for the past year to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
But those transport rules will be replaced by government guidance that is advising passengers to wear face masks only on busy services.
This comes after Scotland’s First Minister says there are still reasons to be concerned amid high case numbers and hospital admissions. Scotland’s lockdown restrictions within will be eased from Monday, Nicola Sturgeon has said, but with certain key conditions.
England is removing most of its COVID-19 restrictions next Monday, and while the UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has said that he expects masks to be worn in crowded places, such as when on a busy Tube train, their use will no longer be mandatory.
London is the first city in English to insist on face coverings after the easing of coronavirus restrictions.
In Scotland, the mandatory use of face masks will remain in place for “some time”, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said, even after the nation eases most of its other coronavirus restrictions on the 19th of July.
The rules for face masks apply in shops and public transport, as well as pubs and restaurants when not seated.
In Wales, face masks will continue to be required by law within some settings. The Welsh government has said that face coverings would still be mandatory on public transport and within health and social care settings in the nation.
Mr Khan has made face coverings a condition of carriage for the Tube, bus, tram, DLR, as well as the Overground and TfL Rail.
This means that, despite the easing of coronavirus restrictions on the 19th of July, it will be listed as a condition within a legal agreement between Transport for London (TfL) and its customers.
Face masks will also be required in taxis, as well as private hire vehicles by both drivers and their passengers unless they are exempt.
This comes after the school bubble system in England is being scrapped and only those who have tested positive for COVID-19 will have to self-isolate. The education secretary said he recognised the school isolation bubble system is causing disruption to many children.
Mr Khan said: “We know from the government’s own advisors and from the World Health Organisation, that wearing a face covering indoors does reduce transmissions.
“It leads to greater public safety and greater public confidence as well.
“As long as the virus is still with us, and as long as we’re still concerned about the virus being transmitted, we will make it compulsory.”
He said he was “confident you will see from Monday high levels of the rules being followed just like there have been since last June”.
TfL’s 400 enforcement officers will be denying those who are not wearing a face covering from using London transport, under the new plan.