The condition of carriage that requires a face mask to be worn on London’s public transport is likely to be dropped shortly, with the requirement changed to a suggestion.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement that England’s legal powers requiring people to self-isolate following a positive covid test will be cancelled in favour of a recommendation to stay at home, the Mayor of London said that “in light of falling infection levels in London, it is expected that wearing a face-covering will no longer be a condition of carriage on the TfL network.”
The Mayor added though, “However, we know that face coverings remain a simple, effective measure that give Londoners confidence to travel, and following clear advice from public health advisers, TfL will likely continue to recommend their use on the network.”
Although the legal requirement to wear a face mask on public transport in England was cancelled by the government on 27th January, TfL retained the requirement as part of its Conditions of Carriage, which regulate the rules for being allowed to travel on TfL services.
The clause states:
2.4 Given the continued prevalence of Covid-19, all passengers over the age of 10 years must wear a face covering when travelling on our services, until further notice, unless they are exempt.
You must wear a face covering when in our bus and rail stations, on our platforms, Emirates Air Line terminals and river piers and on our bus, tram, train, Emirates Air Line, Dial-a-Ride and Woolwich ferry services.
Your face covering must cover from the top of your nose to the bottom of your chin, and attach behind your ears or tie behind your head, unless you are exempt from this requirement.
If you are not exempt and you fail to comply with this requirement or directions given by an authorised officer, you may not be allowed entry or may be asked to leave our premises.
You must remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers or staff for the purposes of identification.
Some people are exempt from wearing a face covering. For example, those using ventilators to breathe, or those with conditions effecting their dexterity which means they are not able to put on a face mask, and any other categories of persons listed in TfL’s ‘face covering exemptions list’, published on the TfL website and available at stations.
The Mayor has not set out a date for dropping the face mask rule from the conditions, so until then it will remain a requirement to wear a face covering, over the nose as well as the mouth.
The Mayor added, “I urge passengers to be considerate of their fellow Londoners and continue to wear a face covering where appropriate unless exempt.”
Scientific advice suggests that, although face coverings are unlikely to prevent an individual from catching the coronavirus, they can help prevent someone who is infected from infecting others and thus help control the virus.