Keep on wearing face masks, London mayor tells commuters

The Mayor of London has urged commuters to continue wearing face coverings on the capital’s public transport network as England’s so-called “freedom day” arrived.

Some commuters were seen without masks on the Tube network on Monday morning while others continued to wear them amid concerns over rising Covid case rates.

Face masks are no longer required by law on public transport after the remaining coronavirus restrictions in England were lifted but are required as a “condition of carriage” on Transport for London (TfL) services.

This means enforcement officers are able to deny access or eject passengers found to be non-compliant while using the TfL network.

Sadiq Khan estimated that more than 90% of people were following the rules during his commute on Monday.

He told the PA news agency: “The vast majority of people were wearing masks.

“If I could guess, I would say north of 90% and what I think that shows is that people are carrying on their great habits from the last few weeks.

“I’m disappointed that it is no longer national legislation.

“The good news is that it appears that those visiting London are doing the right thing.”

He added: “I think we should recognise this virus is still here.

“On an average day there are 4,000 new cases.

“Whenever you are indoors and cannot keep your social distancing, err on the side of caution and put your face mask on.

“I think when you leave your home now, just like you think about having your keys, your wallet, your purse, carry a face mask as well.”

John Raim, 32, who was travelling on the Jubilee Line on Monday morning, said wearing a mask had become second nature.

“It feels more normal for me to wear one than not,” he said.

“I think the decision to make mask-wearing compulsory in London is a good one.”

Anne-Marie Doherty, who was also sporting a mask as she travelled on the Tube, said: “There are signs saying wear a mask and there are still people in my carriage not wearing a mask.

“They didn’t have a badge saying they were exempt either.

“I think things have gotten very sloppy. I’m double jabbed and I am worried.”

A nurse travelling to work on the Underground, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Cases are rising and it is worrying that some people are choosing not to wear masks.

“It is not too much to ask for people to wear a mask to protect those who are vulnerable.

“I have seen first-hand what happens if people don’t act sensibly.”

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Other commuters explained why they were reluctant to keep wearing a face covering.

Don Lita explained that he was not wearing a mask because he has “ear allergies”.

He added: “I think it is not fair to force people to wear masks.”

A group of female friends travelling on the Jubilee Line, who were not wearing masks, said: “We did our make-up to hang out and did not want to ruin it. Sweat and make-up is not a good combination, and it can be dangerous to sit in a hot mask on a long journey like we had.”

Mr Khan said roughly 400 enforcement officers were employed to make sure people are following the rules in the capital.

He said: “We would have liked the national legislation to carry on because then we could use the police service and national police.

“The alternative was saying there’s no need to wear a face mask.

“Although public transport in London is incredibly safe, there is a world-class enhanced cleaning regime, hospital style disinfectant … I’m not going to pretend it’s perfect.”