Political leaders order continued use of face masks in transport systems

Face coverings will continue to be compulsory in some locally operated public transport spaces as political leaders called on the Government to keep mask-wearing a legal requirement.

People in West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire will have to continue wearing face masks in bus stations operated by the combined authorities, while passengers using the Metro in the North East will also be required to wear a face covering after restrictions are lifted on July 19.

Mayors and council leaders urged the Government to “get a grip” and retain national legislation for the use of face masks on public transport and public enclosed spaces in England.

Political leaders across the country spoke out as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan asked Transport for London to enforce the use of mask wearing on buses and trains as a “condition of carriage”.

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Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said people would have to continue wearing face masks in bus stations operated by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

She said: “With 71% of the public supportive of the continued use of face coverings, I am today mandating the use of face coverings across bus stations in West Yorkshire.

“Whilst I would like to go further to include buses and trains, we are doing what is in our power.

“I have been consistently clear with Government, they have the power to mandate face masks across all transport networks and I would support them to make that decision as restrictions lift.”

Dan Jarvis, the Mayor of South Yorkshire, also said face masks will remain mandatory in bus stations and interchanges operated by the Mayoral Combined Authority in the Sheffield City Region.

He said: “With Covid case numbers continuing to rise rapidly, now is not the time to remove the legal requirement to wear face masks on public transport and in enclosed public spaces.

“This is why, from Monday, at the bus stations and interchanges we control in South Yorkshire, wearing face coverings will continue to be mandatory.”

Mr Jarvis urged the Government to make mask-wearing a legal requirement for transport networks and enclosed spaces across England.

He added: “A national mandate would without a doubt be more effective and create less confusion for passengers and fewer challenges for staff.”

Transport North East said the requirement to wear a face covering will continue beyond July 19 on the locally owned Metro system.

And political leaders in the region have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking him to keep the national legislation to mandate the wearing of face masks on public transport.

Martin Gannon, leader of Gateshead Council and chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “We really need the Government to get a grip and sort out the confusion.

“We are doing everything we can locally to manage the situation by keeping the requirement to wear a face covering on the Metro.

“We are also trying to co-ordinate with our bus operator partners.”

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Mr Gannon added: “Only the national Government has the ability to send a clear and unambigious message to everyone in society that the social and moral obligation to wear a face covering on public transport is backed up by law.”

Dan Norris, Metro Mayor for the West of England, said the region did not have the powers to mandate mask-wearing on public transport but he had written to Mr Johnson to ask him to make face coverings compulsory.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Norris wrote: “I am sure, like me and millions of British people, you own a face mask.

“Therefore, while current Covid levels cause concern, I would like to see them continue to be worn on public transport.

“We have them, so let’s use them.

“My constituents, many of whom cross borders into London and Wales by train, face journeys with different rules at each end.

“I therefore call upon you to pass urgent legislation to mandate mask-wearing in the West of England and the country as a whole.”

In the West Midlands, Mayor Andy Street also said Transport for West Midlands did not have the power to make face coverings mandatory but it expected passengers to continue to wear masks.

Mr Street said: “Any change in the law around the wearing of face coverings must come from Government.”