Face coverings must still be worn on London transport after government Covid measures lift on July 19, says Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Face masks have been mandatory on public transport and in enclosed spaces, such as shops, throughout the pandemic.
But from July 19, the government will relax its legally enforceable rules, in a shift towards allowing the public to make their own decisions regarding face masks and social distancing.
Many experts have publicly condemned the government’s decision to relax measures now, as the country experiences continually growing Covid case numbers.
While Boris Johnson and other ministers have urged people to exercise “personal responsibility” in continuing to wear masks in “crowded and enclosed spaces”, his City Hall successor has called for TfL to go further by continuing to mandate their use.
The requirement would mean passengers on all TfL services, which includes the Tube, bus, tram, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), Overground and TfL Rail, would need to continue to wear a face covering in stations and for the duration of their journey unless they are exempt.
Mr Khan has also asked TfL to put measures in place to help ensure the continued use of masks in taxis and private hire vehicles by both drivers and passengers unless they are exempt.
“I’ve repeatedly made clear that the simplest and safest option would have been for the government to retain the national requirement for face coverings on public transport,” Mr Khan said.
“I’m not prepared to stand by and put Londoners, and our city’s recovery, at risk.
“This is why, after careful consideration, I have decided to ask TfL to retain the requirement for passengers to wear a face covering on all TfL services when the national regulations change.
“By keeping face masks mandatory we will give Londoners and visitors the reassurance and confidence to make the most of what our city has to offer, while also protecting our heroic transport workers and those who may be vulnerable and rely on the network to get around our city.
“It’s an extra layer of protection on top of TfL’s world-leading enhanced cleaning regime – and I’m sure Londoners will continue to do the right thing as they have done throughout the pandemic, and continue to wear a face covering on TfL services.”
Officials said TfL enforcement officers patrolling London’s transport network, under the conditions of carriage requirement, will be able to refuse entry to people not wearing masks and who are not exempt, and would also be able to ask people to leave services for failure to comply with the requirement.
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The move comes just days after London’s transport chief warned that enforcing masks to be worn on Tubes and buses will be a “shambles” if it is not a legal requirement after restrictions ease.
Andy Byford said: “I don’t want to create a situation where there is huge uncertainty and it becomes a bit of a shambles because we are being yelled at to enforce something which is not that easy to enforce without the backing of legislation.”
A government spokeswoman said: “As we’ve set out, we’re moving from a universal government diktat to relying on people’s personal responsibility.
“The guidance is clear that people are expected and recommended to wear a mask when they come into contact with people they don’t normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces.
“It is open to transport operators to decide if they want to take further measures.”