Masks set to stay on Tubes and buses after July 19

Masks set to stay on Tubes and buses after July 19: Sadiq Khan is expected to insist Londoners still cover faces on public transport despite change in law

  • Reports claim new rules next month will see mandatory face coverings ditched
  • But the Mayor of London has insisted he wants to continue to ‘follow the science’
  • Evidence indicates masks are an effective barrier against transmitting the virus
  • Therefore a spokesman said he’d ‘look closely’ at making sure they are still used 

Sadiq Khan is expected to insist that Londoners still cover their faces on public transport after July 19, despite an imminent change in the law.

Reports suggest that England is set to be free of all Covid restrictions by the new ‘Freedom Day’ next month, as the country moves towards herd immunity.

In doing so, ministers hope to lift rules such as social distancing, face masks in public spaces and work-from-home guidance  – and could even allow nightclubs to reopen – in the comings weeks.

Instead, orders to wear face coverings will instead be replaced with guidance, meaning people effectively have a personal choice over whether or not they wish to wear one.

But the London mayor has spoken of his desire to continue to ‘follow the science’ which indicates masks are an effective barrier against transmitting the virus. 

Sadiq Khan is expected to insist that Londoners still cover their faces on public transport after July 19, despite the change in law

Orders to wear face coverings are likely to be replaced with guidance, meaning people effectively have a personal choice over whether or not they wish to wear one

A spokesman for Mr Khan told the Standard: ‘On the continuing wearing of face masks, it is important that we continue to follow the science around the extent to which they limit transmission on transport and in busy indoor spaces.

‘Evidence shows that the wearing of facemasks gives many Londoners the confidence that they can travel safely on public transport.

‘People feeling confident they can travel on our tubes, buses and trains as they get busier will be a vital part of encouraging more people into central London as restrictions are lifted further, and it is something that we will continue to look at closely.’

The Mayor insisted public confidence with key, with the TfL network currently running at only 60 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

It comes after a survey last week found nearly two in three travellers said they wouldn’t use public transport unless it was mandatory for fellow passengers to wear face coverings.

TfL insists compliance with the rules is generally ‘very high’, but by the end of last month, enforcement officers had stopped a total of 188,324 passengers who weren’t fearing a face covering or were doing so incorrectly.  

Of these, 12,176 were refused travel and 3,647 fines of £200 were issued. 

Earlier this month, Boris Johnson sensationally scrapped June 21 as England’s previously set ‘Freedom Day’, amid concerns about cases of the Delta (Indian) variant in the UK.  

Ministers hope that the extra four weeks will buy enough to time to get more Britain’s double-jabbed before the final set of restrictions are lifted.

And, so long as the current trends continue, the Government believes it can lift more restrictions next month. A senior Government source told the Times that ministers ‘get as close to normal as possible’ on July 19. 

Instead of restrictions, the Government will push an emphasis on ‘personal responsibility’ to help limit the spread of the virus. 

It comes as Britain yesterday recorded 11,625 coronavirus cases – the most since mid-February – and deaths may have finally started creeping upwards following the rapid spread of the Indian variant. 

Other promising data today revealed the country has moved one step closer to herd immunity, with nearly nine in 10 adults now having antibodies against Covid. 

The major Office for National Statistics (ONS) blood testing survey highlighted the success of the UK’s mammoth vaccination campaign, which is now open to every adult in all four home nations. Almost 60 per cent of over-18s (31.5million) are now fully jabbed. 

But only 60,000 jabs were recorded as being dished out yesterday because of an ‘IT issue’ affecting England. The problem resulted in clinicians having to log who received their vaccine with pen and paper. 

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