Sadiq Khan orders Londoners to wear masks on tubes, buses and trams after 'Freedom Day'

LONDONERS will have to wear masks on public transport even after ‘Freedom Day’, Sadiq Khan has announced. 

The Mayor will ask Transport for London to keep face coverings compulsory on trains, tubes and buses in the capital – even after the mandate is scrapped across the country on July 19.  


Mr Khan said the “simplest and safest” option was for the government to keep national mask laws in place, but added: “I’m not prepared to stand by and put Londoners, and our city’s recovery, at risk.

“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.

“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.”

The requirement would mean passengers on all TfL services, which includes the tube, bus, tram and Overground, would need to continue to wear a face covering in stations and for the duration of their journey unless they are exempt.

City Hall said enforcement officers would patrol the network – and passengers could be turned away if they refused to wear a mask.

MASK CONFUSION

TfL said that over the past year almost 212,000 people have been stopped by enforcement officers from getting on the network until they put on a face covering.

It comes amid growing confusion over whether masks will remain as a policy after next week, when all legal Covid restrictions will come to an end. 

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The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said yesterday that the Government wanted people to continue to wear masks in “busy” indoor settings such as trains, supermarket and cinemas. 

He said: “Whilst we have moved to allowing people to use their personal judgment, guidance is clear that we expect and recommend people to wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces.”

But Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg earlier said he would not wear a face covering once rules have been eased next Monday. 

He told the Conservative Home podcast: “This morning I wandered around the palace of Westminster wearing a mask, and met almost nobody. In those circumstances I will not be wearing a mask – what would be the point?

“If you've had both vaccines, your risk of transmitting the disease is slight. 

“So in a way you've done your societal bit by having the vaccine, as much as by wearing a mask, which is why I think it's sensibly individual choice.”

CASES SURGE

It comes as experts urged Boris Johnson to keep the mask mandate beyond July 19 amid a surge in coronavirus cases driven by the Delta variant.

Britain today recorded 36,660 positive cases – the highest figure in six months. Deaths jumped by 50, marking a slight uptick on last Tuesday’s figure of 33.

But fatalities have remained low relative to infections. The last time the UK recorded over 37,000 cases on January 21, fatalities jumped by 1,292. 

The UK’s vaccination programme is also continuing to surge ahead, with 54,296 first doses given out yesterday and 125,360 second doses doled out.

Modelling by SAGE yesterday claimed there could be as many as 4,800 daily Covid admissions this summer if the UK rushes back to normality next week.

But the scientists also believe that the public will be responsible over the summer, and admissions will peak at between 1,000 and 2,000 a day with daily deaths reaching a maximum of between 100 and 200.  

A Government spokeswoman said: "As we've set out, we're moving from a universal Government diktat to relying on people's personal responsibility.

"The guidance is clear that people are expected and recommended to wear a mask when they come into contact with people they don't normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces."

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