So far, since the regulations came into effect about wearing a face covering on public transport, 170 people have been prosecuted in court for non-compliance.

That’s a tiny fraction of the total numbers of people are stopped by TfL staff, as the majority then put on a facemask when asked to do so. Fortunately, TfL says that face covering compliance overall across its services is around 90% with around three quarters of passengers who do not wear a face covering having an exemption.

According to a Freedom of Information request, between 4th July (when enforcement began) and 10th December 2020, TfL officers stopped 124,601 people from getting on public transport services until they put on a face covering, or showed good reason not to need one.

People who are medically exempted from wearing a face covering can request a free badge from TfL to show they are exempt – from here.

Despite the considerable awareness of the need to wear a face covering over both the mouth and nose on public transport, nearly 9,000 people had to be prevented from getting on board TfL services, and just over 2,000 people were removed from public transport for refusing to comply with the regulations.

Over 1,300 people were also issued with a fixed penalty notice which currently stands at £200 for a first offence (reduced to £100 if paid within 14 days). This fine can double each time a person is caught not wearing a face covering, up to a maximum of £6,400.

People who refuse to pay the TfL fine within the 28 day limit allowed can be sent for prosecution, and the FOI request revealed that so far 170 people have ended up in court. Fines range from £250 to £440 for those pleading guilty and fines of £660 for those found guilty in their absence.

That’s just for the TfL enforcement, the Met Police and British Transport Police are also carrying out their own operations.


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  1. Singlendhot says:

    Only 170 people? It’s a national tragedy that we do not use revenue from Fixed Penalty fines to fund our own recovery.

    If these people can’t stop the spread of the virus, they should pay the price. Zero empathy or tolerance! Anything less would be a criminal wrongdoing on the part of our lawmakers and enforcers.

    • Liroy says:

      Correcto mundo!! These fines are ridiculous and the fact that police is only telling people politely to put face coverings on instead of bloody fining them on the spot is an absolute joke!!
      Not to mention all arrivals from abroad that no one is checking on!! Shambles

  2. Terri says:

    Buses have many people on,who do not wear masks,it would be a good idea to have checks every so often and fine non compliance

  3. Aline says:

    The government is poor,they need ways of making money.

  4. Lan says:

    Even if you don’t believe covid exists, You should be wearing a face mask on public transport, Just to reassure the other passengers. The people who don’t wear face masks should be banned from using the trains and buses. Realy rude not to comply

  5. Bob Jenkins says:

    Totally agree, face masks (and not the single use variety which are basically useless) should be compulsory when using public transport. Anyone not wearing one (unless exempt) the moment they enter a station or try to get on any form of public transport should be instantly fined and refused the right to travel.

  6. Andy Nicholls says:

    There should be no exemption from wearing masks.If you cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition then you really probably shouldnt be travelling anyway.People are dying so you should be challenged if not wearing a mask and provide medical proof, the current idea of not challenging people is absurd particular those groups that are at risk

    • Louisa says:

      Sorry Andy but your talking rubbish
      I’m exempt but from serious anxieties so why should I be at home 🤔
      There are also other reasons for exemption like some particular trauma in your life that makes it impossible to wear a mask so calm down with your black and white ideas

    • Alexandra says:

      Really? Have you ever heard about claustrophobia or severe migraines?! Do you know what a person with any of the conditions mentioned above needs to go through for wearing a face covering even for 5 minutes? There is such thing as exemptions for a reason…People like yourself should be the ones that should actually stay home since you are so scared that the virus is spread because of the people that are exempt and do not wear a mask. I am personally tired and disgusted of people looking at me and judging the fact that I don’t wear a mask when I shop or take the tube.

    • ianVisits says:

      I know a number of people who are medically exempted, and they don’t have people looking at them in disgust, because said people notice the mask-exempt badges they wear.

  7. Ginny Ickle says:

    170? You could arrest more than that at a single tube stop. And should.

    • ianvisits says:

      How many bus stops have 170+ people waiting at them?

    • Alison says:

      I have mild copd and have always been claustrophobic.The thought of being attached to a ventilator which would totally freak me is enough to ensure I always wear a mask let alone the fact that I do not want to spread a virus that could kill my fellow traveler. Is it comfortable hell no but you just get on with it . This isn’t about personal feelings or even personal well-being it is about stopping this virus and thinking about the greater good and knowing that really I am insignificant .

  8. Ken says:

    I still get shocked whenever I take a tube or bus in London to find so many childish adults not wearing a mask.

    In some Asian countries (South Korea for example), people wear a mask even at a cafe, temporarily pulling it down for sipping coffee and putting it back immediately whenever not drinking. In the tube here, some people “pretend” they’re drinking a pepsi just to not wear the damn mask.

    UK deserves lockdown, although it’s unfair for people who followed the rules, considering those being either selfish or uncivilised, or both.

  9. Bianca Saville says:

    Many of you seem fixated on the 170 people who had to be taken to court. These people had refused to pay their fines, whereas over 1,300 did pay. Also a large number were prevented from travelling.
    Clearly some reinforcements are taking place.
    What would be best is that everyone’s consciences worked! However, that is never going to happen.
    When I have to travel very occasionally on public transport and I see people without a mask I ask them to put one on. Most comply and pretend that they ‘forgot’ a very few are rude, but it’s still worthwhile to try.

  10. Nicholas Bennett says:

    Travelling in Germany and Italy in September I saw nobody on public transport or shopping not wearing a mask. We seem to have a lot of vulnerable young people with ‘hidden health problems’. If you can’t wear a mask wear a visor otherwise shield yourself at home.

  11. Roger says:

    It’s time to move to a no mask, no travel policy, and spot checks to catch all the people who take them off once on board. Being “exempt” should mean a doctor’s letter, not something meaningless downloaded to a phone (and I write as someone wearing a mask despite having to use oxygen when out).

    • Alison says:

      Yes wearing a mask must be very uncomfortable for you but good on you for putting others welfare ahead of your own comfort .

  12. James says:

    Are you able to share the citation for the FOI request and response?

  13. Jayne Ellison says:

    My partner is a bus driver. He gets the most outrageous abuse from some people who board the bus without a mask. He reminds them they need a mask to travel….nothing else, but then they go into a tirade of abuse about how he had better not ask them if they are medically exempt as he would be abusing their human rights. They get very loud and act as if he has just sworn at them. This is without him even asking if they are exempt. He is not allowed to refuse them travel. It really does need to be made law without the ‘unless’ get-outs which can’t be enforced by those on the front line. It pains me how some people can treat others who have no choice but to take the abuse.

  14. Mo says:

    Can bus drivers issue you a fine when not wearing a face mask?
    When clocking in with a weekly bus pass how would they know where to send the fine too? as your address is unknown to the driver.
    I find it funny that buses are allowing people to sit next to each other throughout their journey. If that’s the case you might as well remove your face mask and sit together.

    • ianVisits says:

      As the pandemic has been raging for 18 months, and the regulations about face masks came in over a year ago, if you haven’t work that out already, then it’s a bit late to be asking now.

  15. D L GARDNER says:

    London Bridge station tonight had hundreds without face masks, no NR or TOC staff challenging and not a BTP officer in sight in on of the UK’s busiest interchanges. Then on the bus, at least 50% wore no face covering (no exempt badge) and not a peep from the driver. In Bedfordshire, they don’t let you on without one, and in France guards patrol trains enforcing masks.

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