From today, 24th February, face coverings will not be mandatory on transport operated by Transport for London (TfL).
With the shift in the Government’s approach towards living with the virus and decreasing infection rates in London, TfL has considered a number of factors in reaching its decision. They have also considered evidence about the effectiveness of face coverings, results of independent testing by Imperial College London for coronavirus on the public transport network since September 2020, and feedback from stakeholders. The changes respond to the current pandemic situation in London and will allow TfL to continue to provide safe transport services.
To drive down transmission of the virus and keep others safe TfL still strongly encourages customers to wear face coverings on its services. Research suggests a good-quality face covering can help reduce the chance of catching coronavirus and passing it onto others. Face coverings have also helped give people the confidence to use public transport throughout the pandemic, particularly vulnerable.
In recent weeks, public transport use has grown. Last week, there were about around 2.2-2.5m journeys per weekday on the Tube, which was around 60 percent of pre-pandemic levels. Weekday bus ridership is now regularly at around 4.5m journeys a day, about 75 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
At weekends, Tube and bus ridership numbers are even closer to pre-pandemic levels. Last weekend the Tube reached 75 percent of pre-pandemic levels. TfL figures indicate that millions of Londoners are regularly using public transport across the city, showing continued confidence that services are safe, clean, and reliable.
Lilli Matson, Chief Safety, Health and Environment Officer for TfL, said: “Transport is an essential element of London’s recovery from the pandemic. We have seen increasing numbers of customers return to our network as they begin to return to offices and workplaces, as well as to bars, theatres, restaurants and other cultural venues. That return is due in part to the confidence that Londoners have in our ongoing work to ensure that the transport network is clean, reliable, and safe.
“Following the Government’s decision to lift coronavirus restrictions and the falling infection rates in London, we will be removing the condition of carriage that requires customers to wear face coverings from 24 February, but will continue to strongly recommend that customers and staff wear them as they are proven to reduce the risk of transmission and we know they provide confidence to people using public transport. All customers should be assured that the public transport network is as safe as other similar settings and that independent testing has found no trace of coronavirus on our network since September 2020. We look forward to continuing to welcome customers back to our network as we help London and the economy recover.”