London’s transport chief has warned that enforcing masks to be worn on Tubes and buses will be a “shambles” if it is not a legal requirement after restrictions ease.
Confirmed today (12 July) by the Health Secretary Sajid Javid, the legal requirement to wear a mask in indoor public settings, such as transport and in shops, will be scrapped as part of the final phase of easing Covid restrictions on 19 July.
The Opposition, as well as domestic and international public health officials, have expressed concern at the Government’s plans and are encouraging people to still wear face coverings when possible, particularly on public transport.
Andy Byford, London’s Transport Commissioner, told The Evening Standard he wanted to avoid creating a perception that the London Underground was dangerous or having staff “yelled at” for failing to enforce restrictions that were not Government policy.
Majority of TfL customers feel safer with mask-wearing
Mr Byford told an Urban Transport Group webinar on Thursday (1 July):
“We are looking to see what the national rail does, because it would be kind of odd if you can come in on a mainline train to Charing Cross and not wear a mask, and then get on the Tube and have to. That won’t make things any easier for enforcement.
“Around 60-65 per cent of our customers say they feel more secure if everyone is wearing a mask. We should listen to our customers.
“But equally I feel very strongly that I don’t want TfL to be this sole outlier, because what message are you sending? Are you subliminally sending a message: ‘Careful, it’s dangerous down there, you have to wear a mask still’, or ‘It’s dangerous on the buses’? It isn’t.
“We want to make sure we give customers the confidence to come back.
“But equally I don’t want to create a situation where there is huge uncertainty and it becomes a bit of a shambles because we are being yelled at to enforce something which is not that easy to enforce without the backing of legislation.”
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