Railway commuters will experience mixed messaging about face masks beginning next Thursday. Although they no longer require legal compliance, it was revealed that they would still be required on Transport for London service.
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has announced that he will no longer require people to wear masks when travelling in England’s public transport. Sadiq Khan is however still working for London’s Mayor and has confirmed that it will continue as a “condition of carriage” on all TfL service.
If you don’t wear a face mask while traveling on the Underground or Overground or buses, trams, or riverboats through the Capital, you may not be allowed to board or ask for permission to leave.
However the threat of a fine will be dropped from next Thursday because it will be no longer legally enforceable –although it will still be until that point under rules brought in on November 30, 2021 due to the Omicron variant.
TfL stated that its 500-member uniformed enforcement officers (police partners) will be deployed across the network to make sure customers adhere to the regulation, until it is changed next Thursday.
TfL declared that “those who are not wearing face covers may be prohibited from using our services and asked to leave network”; the Labour mayor’s position was supported by union bosses at Transport Salaried Staffs Association.
Rail Delivery Group, the UK’s rail operators, stated today that National Rail will only require people to wear masks when they are in an indoor setting. However, this guidance is not mandatory.
RDG spokesmen said masks will not be considered a “condition of carriage” and that passengers must follow government guidelines. They should also wear facial coverings in busy indoor environments.
London’s bizarre face-masking situation is created by TfL operating some of the services, while others travel on different tracks between stations.
Examples of this include Kensington Olympia to Shepherd’s Bush, where masks will be required on Overground trains but not on Southern; Upminster to Barking, where masks will be required on District line trains but not on c2c; and King’s Cross to Kentish Town, where masks are needed on Northern line trains but not on Thameslink.
These changes to the rules for face masks are expected to be accompanied by an increase in public transport passengers after the Government removed the guidance’s working. This was in effect since December 13, 2013.
Emma Gibson, Director of London TravelWatch’s transport watchdog, commented on the removal of Plan B restrictions. She stated: “Seven of ten people feel more safe on public transport when other people wear face covers, and this number is higher for seniors who are frequent users of public transport.
Commuters clog into the train carriage of a Jubilee Line train that stops at Waterloo Station on the London Underground.
Commuters don face masks when they travel by the Jubilee Line East London at rush hour.
Today, after the advice not to work at home was dropped, commuters in London’s Waterloo station make their way to offices.
Today’s Underground train sightings include the current Transport for London face mask sticker.
Commuters are wearing masks while they walk or stand on an escalator in Waterloo Station on the London Underground.
This morning, people wearing masks pass by a Covid-19 poster about the rules of face-masking at Piccadilly Circus Station in London.
MailOnline today spoke with London commuters who supported the Government’s decision to end work-from-home guidance, but expressed concern about the possibility of an increase in Covid cases.
Daniel Myers (33), an IT worker, was traveling to his office via Ealing Broadway, West London. He said that it didn’t affect him because he had been working despite being guided.
We were offered a choice. I do not like the idea of working from home. Because it helps to move the economy again, I believe it is better for everybody that everyone goes back to work. However, it will get busier for the trains and buses. My concern is that this may increase Covid’s chances.
Sheila O’Rourke (29), a London-based waitress, stated that she needed to return to her normal life.
“I’ve not stopped working because the restaurant is open, but that’s no excuse. It’s a great decision even though it could lead to an increase of Covid rates. However, many people have been vaccinated. The booster will provide us with a great deal of protection.
The station staff stated that they have seen a substantial increase in passengers, but they expect that this will change starting next week.
Ealing Boulevard staff said, “The WFH announcement has just been made. I feel that a full-time return will be happening starting next week.”
“It hasn’t been a rush hour this morning but I worry that soon you will see the same madness.” The only thing that passengers need to do is make sure they wear masks. This will be legal because Covid cases are not likely to increase.
Paul Lambert (44), was on his way from Kew back to Central London. He said that he had been out and about for some time since the end of the lockdown. It’s difficult to decide whether to return people to work. I believe it is the right decision.
Jane Doe (50) said that she had stopped working during previous lockdowns, but has continued to work over the last few weeks. For young people, I believe it is safe.
Sanjeev, 38, who works for an electrical company, made the trip from Northfields Underground station to get there. My work has been a mixture of homework and office visits, as I have done with many others.
“The Tubes and Buses will be packed again, although they were not like this today. My concern is that Covid will become more common.”
Neil Davies was on his way from Richmond station and said that he thought it would be okay for people to return to work as long as they are cautious. However, there is still a lot of work ahead.
Yesterday Mr Khan claimed that wearing a mask is the most effective way to keep the virus from spreading.
Commuters stroll along London Waterloo’s concourse, while others look at information boards.
Commuters wait on a Northern train as they rush through London at rush hour.
Commuters pass through a passageway near London Euston station in rush hour.
Commuters wait on a Northern train as they rush through London at rush hour.
After their work-from-home guidance, commuters wait to get information at London King’s Cross Station about boards.
As they stroll by a Piccadilly Circus sign for London Underground, mask-wearing people wear them
Commuters wait in line for a Northern Line train as they travel into London at rush hour.
According to him, wearing a mask is the best and most effective way to stop the spread of Covid-19. The Government needs to rethink its plans. They should also keep the legislation in place for mandatory face covers on public transport and in public places.
“This will ensure that the rules remain consistent and clear, and it is crucial to allow enforcement actions on our transportation network.
“If there is one thing we learned from the pandemic it’s that we should not be complacent or undo all of our sacrifices and hard work.
“Face coverings will continue to be a requirement for carriage on Transport for London services. To keep everyone safe and prevent any further restrictions, I ask that all citizens of the capital continue wearing a cover when they travel on TfL.
Manuel Cortes (general secretary, Transport Salaried Staffs Association) backed him. He stated: “As always our union places public health first, and we know face coverings reduce the transmission of the disease and will increase public trust in public transport.
“It is vital that our courageous transport personnel who were on the frontline of this pandemic feel safe and secure.
“Sadiq Khan’s statement that face covers should be kept beyond Plan B is accurate, particularly considering the high rates of infections we still see.
“Clearly, the government should support this not just for London but throughout our public transport system.”
Yesterday, the Prime Minister declared that England would return to Plan A after declaring that ‘our scientists believe that it is probable that Omicron waves have now peaked nationally’ and that Plan B may therefore end.
TfL spokeswoman said however that they were grateful for people following the rules to help control the virus. They also asked them to keep their staff and each other safe.
Our intention is not to remove the requirement that customers cover their faces while on board our network. This has been proven to have a positive impact on people’s confidence in using public transport to get around safely.
“Under these conditions of carriage, individuals who don’t wear facial coverings might be denied access to our services or requested to leave the network.
“The network’s transport system is cleaner than ever with an improved cleaning regimen, hospital-grade cleaning products, readily available hand sanitizer and UV light fittings on the escalator handrails. Regular testing by Imperial College London found no evidence of coronavirus in our public transport network.
“We are looking forward to seeing our customers again and supporting the recovery of the city from the pandemic.”
TfL also issued a weekend travel update for passengers this morning. It stated: “You must cover your face during the journey, or you risk getting fined, except if you’re exempt.”
Face coverings are recommended for all passengers in private and taxi vehicles throughout their trip. TfL will have 500 uniformed officers from TfL and TfL police partners on the roads to ensure that all customers adhere to the regulations. Anyone who doesn’t comply with the regulations may be denied entry or directed to leave, and/or fined.
Councillor Rachael Robertathan is leader of Westminster City Council. He stated: “Footfall continues to be sharply down in West End, and one key factor of that is commuters having stayed away significantly in significant numbers. It has resulted in a lack of customer support at our bars and shops. The lifting of the restrictions on working from home is therefore not possible.
“Over the past 18 month, Council has tried to draw people back in the City by staging prominent free events, supporting small businesses that pop up in empty shops, and continuing the expansion of al fresco eating where people are supportive it. We are also pressing on with ambitious plans for a £150million redesign of Oxford Street to make it more attractive for visitors.
It’s not the buildings that make the city, but the people. They create the atmosphere, enjoy the bars, restaurants, and the world-famous locations. It’s a pleasure to welcome them back.
This comes at a time when the UK Health Security Agency’s chief medical advisor (UKHSA), said that people’s behavior will have an impact on declining and rising cases of coronavirus.
At a Downing Street press conference, Dr Susan Hopkins stated that socializing and mixing will need to be done carefully and in accordance with guidelines.
Yesterday’s announcement by the Prime Minister was that face masks won’t be mandatory in England beginning next week. Additionally, people will not be able to use their home office immediately.
According to Dr Hopkins, the conference revealed that “I believe what we have seen is that cases numbers have fallen.” The next four weeks will be a test of people’s behavior on how they behave, whether that case number continues to fall, stays the same or increases.
‘Obviously working at home means less social contact. However, we already see some people returning to the office to mix and socialise.
They must follow the instructions and be careful.
Dr Hopkins stated that “the greatest response we can all give as individuals is for us to take ourselves seriously.” He also said that “the most important thing that we have to do is drive towards vaccinations and to remember to cover our faces when in close spaces with people you don’t really know”.
After the announcement was made, Charities described it as a “risk” to remove the requirement that face masks be worn.
Richard Kramer (CEO of Sense), a charity for disabled persons, stated: ‘While for most, thanks to the success with the vaccine programme, Covid-19 doesn’t pose a major risk to their health but we need to remember that many people living with disabilities are still at greater risk for severe illness or complications from the virus.
“The safety precautions being removed, like the compulsory wearing of masks on public transport, have been in fact lifted. Their removal will raise anxiety.
“The message from the Government is that the world will open up, and we are going back to normal,” but this is not the reality for many people with disabilities. People who were clinically very vulnerable and have continued to shield themselves after the pause was made have felt unsafe leaving their home.
Henny Braund, MBE, is the chief executive officer of Anthony Nolan charity. He stated that infection rates are still extremely high, and ending Plan B restrictions for England in England will present a serious risk to patients with blood cancer, who continue to be vulnerable to Covid-19. Their protection may require them to take precautions – at least for the next two years, after the outbreak of the pandemic.
“We ask the government to make face masks compulsory as they have been proven to lower virus transmission. Also, we are calling for the creation of a designated lead for those with immunocompromised so there can be clear guidance for patients suffering from blood cancer.