Transport for London (TfL) is set to keep masks or other face coverings as a mandatory condition to travel from next week, despite the Government removing the legal requirement for them to do so.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan confirmed that he has asked TfL to keep the requirement to wear face coverings on public transport as a condition of travel on all TfL services after 19 July, so-called “Freedom Day”.
The requirement would mean passengers on all TfL services would need to continue to wear a face covering in stations and for the duration of their journey unless they are exempt.
Khan has also asked TfL to put appropriate measures in place to help ensure the continued use of face coverings in taxis and private hire vehicles by both drivers and passengers unless they are exempt.
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.
“By keeping face masks mandatory we will give Londoners and visitors the reassurance and confidence to make the most of what our city has to offer, while also protecting our heroic transport workers and those who may be vulnerable and rely on the network to get around our city.
“It’s an extra layer of protection on top of TfL’s world-leading enhanced cleaning regime – and 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.”
Khan has previously called on the Government to keep face coverings on public transport as a legal requirement, but but it was confirmed on Monday that that requirement was not being renewed.
The requirement to wear a face covering would continue to be a condition of carriage on all TfL services from July 19 when the national regulations change, and the Mayor has said this will be subject to ongoing review.
TfL claims customer research from 2 May to 29 May 2021 shows that 86% of customers say they are wearing face coverings at all times on TfL public transport services, with three-quarters of those not wearing face masks exempt or with a similarly good reason not to do so.
Andy Byford, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “I would like to thank the vast majority of people using our services, who have followed the rules and helped control the virus and keep each other, and our staff, safe.
“I urge everyone to continue to follow the requirements so that we can continue to build confidence, and get back to the many wonderful things about London that we have missed during the pandemic.
“The transport network is cleaner than ever, with an enhanced cleaning regime, hospital grade cleaning products, widely available hand sanitizer and UV light fittings on escalator handrails to kill viruses.
“It is great news that regular independent testing for the virus by Imperial College has found no trace on our services, and we are now ready to safely welcome back more and more customers from 19 July as people head out to enjoy all that the capital has to offer.”