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14th Jul 2021

Here’s why you still have to wear a mask on London transport services

Charlie Herbert

You’ll need to keep your mask handy if you’re in the capital.

Transport for London (TfL) is set to make wearing a mask compulsory on underground, bus and rail services, despite mask-wearing being removed as a legal requirement across England from July 19.

From Monday, all remaining Covid restrictions will be lifted in England, including the legal requirement to wear masks in crowded public spaces and on transport services. This is despite the government and medical experts recommending that masks are still worn in these scenarios.

Unions and bus industry bodies have been critical of those in power for the mixed messages surrounding face masks, saying that the changed rhetoric had left operators unable to plan and could put staff and services at risk.

Now, TfL is set to announce that passengers on its transport services will still need to wear face masks beyond July 19. It’s after London mayor Sadiq Khan voiced his support for masks to remain, saying that they will give Londoners and visitors reassurance and confidence whilst also protecting transport workers.

He said: “I’ve repeatedly made clear that the simplest and safest option would have been for the government to retain the national requirement for face coverings on public transport. I’m not prepared to stand by and put Londoners, and our city’s recovery, at risk.

“This is why, after careful consideration, I have decided to ask TfL to retain the requirement for passengers to wear a face covering on all TfL services when the national regulations change.

“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.”

Unions have also said that they want face coverings to remain, but have made clear that staff will not be able to ensure compliance without police intervention, and have warned of the potential for disruption.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, the body which represents the rail industry, said: “Passengers should follow the government guidance and, out of respect for others, wear face coverings if an indoor setting is busy. Train travel is low risk, with the majority of carriages well ventilated by air conditioning systems or by doors and windows.”

Even if you don’t live in London though, the advice from those that matter is pretty simple: the pandemic is not over and masks are still an important part of the fight against Covid.

The likes of Chris Whitty and Health Secretary Sajid Javid have both said that they will continue to wear masks after July 19.

Detailing the lifting of restrictions on July 19, the government website says: “The government expects and recommends that face coverings are worn in crowded and enclosed spaces, such as public transport, when mixing with people you don’t normally meet.

Both Wales and Scotland have announced that the mandatory use of masks will remain in place in some settings for a while yet.