14/07/2021 00:01 BST

Face Masks Will Still Be Required On London Transport, Announces Sadiq Khan

Mayor says he has asked TfL to keep the rule in place beyond July 19.

Ian Forsyth via Getty Images
LEEDS, ENGLAND - MAY 19: Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London gives media interviews during a visit to the electric bus manufacturer Switch Mobility in Yorkshire on May 19, 2021 in Leeds, England. The visit comes to see the affects that green investment from Transport for London is having in different parts of the country. There are currently 67 Switch electric buses in operation in London’s London fleet, and Switch estimate that around 50 per cent of their revenue last year was from TfL contracts. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Face coverings will remain mandatory on London’s transport network including the Tube and buses after July 19, Sadiq Khan has announced.

The mayor of London has asked TfL to keep the rule in place when the national law is lifted.

Boris Johnson has confirmed most of the remaining lockdown rules, including the face covering law, in England will end on Monday.

While it will no longer be a legal requirement, the government has said people will still “expected” to wear masks in indoor enclosed spaces.

But Khan said the prime minister’s decision had “put Londoners, and our city’s recovery, at risk”.

“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,” he said.

“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.

Khan added: “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.”

The mayor’s request means masks would remain mandatory on the Tube, buses, trams, the DLR, the Overground and TfL Rail services.

The government’s decision to scrap the face mask law has been criticised by Labour as well as many scientists. 

Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, has said the mask law should remain in place.

Graham Medley, the chairman of the Sage modelling subgroup Spi-M, told the BBC on Tuesday mask-wearing is only effective “if everybody does it”.

“I understand the government’s reluctance to actually mandate it. On the other hand, if it’s not mandated it probably won’t do any good,” he said.

In its most recent advice to ministers, published on Monday, Sage experts said a “very rapid” return by people to pre-pandemic behaviour would put the NHS under pressure.

“Maintaining interventions such as more people working from home, the use of masks in crowded indoor spaces, and increasing ventilation, would contribute to transmission reduction and therefore reduce the number of hospitalisations,” the scientists said.

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has announced she will go ahead with plans to further ease coronavirus restrictions next week.

But she said face masks will likely remain for “some time to come”, as she claimed lifting all restrictions right now “would put all of us at greater risk”