The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan says face coverings must be worn by all commuters on London’s transport networks even as restrictions are eased on July 19.
The mayor said the decision to maintain this measure was to protect tube, tram and other transport users from catching the COVID-19 virus which is still spreading fast.
Since the pandemic broke over a year ago, the wearing of face masks on public transport had been made compulsory.
But from Monday, passengers are being advised to wear masks only on busy services. The national rail operators say the wearing of masks would no longer be mandatory.
Despite government leaving the decision to the discretion of passengers, Mr. Khan has made the wearing of face coverings a condition of carriage for the Tube, bus, tram, DLR, Overground and TfL Rail. He 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.
Under the plan, TfL's 400 enforcement officers will deny those without a face covering from using London transport.
Mr Khan said TfL staff and bus drivers will continue to remind passengers that masks are a requirement. He said;
I’m sure Londoners will continue to do the right thing as they have done throughout the pandemic, and continue to wear a face covering on TfL services.
Where else will face masks be required?
London is the first English city to insist on face coverings after Covid restrictions ease.
But Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has said he will not 'rule out' mandating face masks on public transport.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cautioned people to continue wearing face masks in crowded indoor spaces.
And in Scotland the mandatory use of face coverings will remain in place for 'some time',First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said, even after the country eases most of its other restrictions on 19 July.
The rules for masks apply in shops and public transport - as well as pubs and restaurants when not seated.