The mayor of London has said he is “not ready” to “endanger” the underground, tram and other transport users in the capital by removing the rules on face coverings after the so-called “Freedom day”.
Depending on the conditions of use, enforcement agents could deny access or eject passengers deemed non-compliant while using the transportation network.
The request comes after the Prime Minister announced on Monday that most of England’s Covid-19 legal restrictions, including mandatory mask-wearing in many indoor public places, would end next week as part of the final step of its roadmap to get out of the coronavirus lockdown.
While Boris Johnson urged people to exercise their “personal responsibility” by continuing to wear masks in “crowded and enclosed spaces,” his successor as mayor called on TfL to go further by continuing to enforce their use.
The requirement would mean that passengers on all TfL services, which include the metro, bus, tram, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), Overground and TfL Rail, would continue to wear face coverings in the stations and throughout their journey, except they are exempt.
Mr Khan also called on TfL to put in place measures to ensure the continued use of masks in taxis and private hire vehicles by drivers and passengers, unless they are exempt.
“I have made it clear on several occasions that the simplest and safest option would have been for the government to maintain the national requirement for face covering in public transport,” Khan said.
“I am not ready to stand idly by and put Londoners and the takeover of our city in jeopardy.
“This is why, after careful consideration, I have decided to ask TfL to maintain the obligation for passengers to wear a face covering on all TfL services when national regulations change.
“By maintaining mandatory face masks, we will give Londoners and visitors the confidence and confidence to make the most of what our city has to offer, while protecting our heroic transport workers and those who may be vulnerable.” and rely on the network to get around. city.
“It’s an extra layer of protection on top of the improved cleansing regimen from world-leading TfL – and I’m sure Londoners will continue to do the right thing as they have throughout the pandemic and will continue to wear a face covering on TfL services. ”
The conditions of carriage are contractual conditions between passengers and TfL, with existing conditions including the non-consumption of alcohol, which is also imposed by a regulation.
Officials said TfL law enforcement officers patrolling London’s transport network, under transport requirement conditions, will be able to deny entry to people not wearing masks and who are not exempt, and may also ask people to leave the services for non-compliance with the requirement.
TfL said that in the past year, nearly 212,000 people have been prevented by enforcement agents from connecting to the network until they cover their faces.
Almost 14,000 people were prevented from boarding and around 3,200 were kicked out of service.
A total of 4,300 flat-rate penalty notices have been issued since the mask-wearing rules came into effect last year, he said.
Station staff and bus drivers will continue to remind passengers that face coverings are mandatory after July 19, with transport use increasing in the capital as the country emerges from lockdown.
According to TfL data, metro ridership is around 40 to 45% of pre-pandemic levels and that of buses around 60 to 65%.
Andy Byford, London Transport Commissioner, said: ‘I want to thank the vast majority of people using our services, who followed the rules and helped control the virus and protect each other and our staff.
“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 missed during the pandemic. “
Aslef, the train drivers’ union, welcomed the London mayor’s decision, but stressed that without law enforcement there would always be a risk of disputes and disruption.
Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, called for “consistency” between local and national transport services.
“This is welcome from the mayor of London and is in line with the position currently taken in Scotland, Wales and on Eurostar,” he told the PA news agency.
“However, we now have the ridiculous position where a passenger traveling through London will have different rules on the tube and mainline services.
“Railway companies and government should follow this example for the sake of consistency, common sense and public safety. “
The Secretary General of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, Manuel Cortes, echoed these sentiments and said he hoped that “other transport authorities and rail operators would take similar measures to protect both staff and operators. passengers ”.
TfL said it was considering amending existing statutes to include the mask constraint, but such a decision would have taken a long time and could have resulted in a gap between the end of national regulations and the entry into force of the requirements. by TfL.
A government spokesperson said: “As we have established, we are moving from a universal diktat of government to relying on personal responsibility of the people.
“The guidelines make it clear that people are expected and recommended to wear a mask when coming into contact with people they would not normally meet in confined and overcrowded spaces.
“It is up to the transport operators to decide whether they wish to take additional measures. “