London's Mayor Says Masks Are Still Mandatory on Public Transport




Face masks will continue to be mandatory on London’s subways and buses even after the government lifts the legal requirement to wear them on July 19, the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said on Wednesday.

Mr. Khan’s announcement puts the London rules at odds with those announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is pushing ahead with a plan to lift almost all Covid restrictions in England, even as coronavirus infections surge and hospital admissions begin to mount.

Adding to the messaging confusion, Mr. Johnson has encouraged people to continue wearing masks in crowded and confined places even though, under the relaxed rules he announced, it will no longer be a legal requirement.

Mr. Khan, who is in the opposition Labour Party, said that wearing a face mask would be a condition of using London’s sprawling public transportation system, which includes the Tube, buses, overground trains, and light rail networks. Passengers who refuse to put one on will be ordered to leave the system.

“The wearing of face coverings helps reduce the spread of Covid, and crucially gives Londoners confidence to travel — vital to our economic recovery,” Mr. Khan said on Twitter. “My mask protects you, your mask protects me.”

Mr. Khan said that masks would also remain mandatory in taxis and ride-hailing services.

Mr. Khan expressed optimism in television interviews that people would abide by the rules. Most riders on the subway and buses wear masks, but some public-health officials worry that behavior could change quickly if they were no longer compulsory.

Officials in other cities have expressed fears that the government’s relaxed rules will contribute to a further surge in infection rates. In Manchester, the city’s Labour mayor, Andy Burnham, is also weighing a legal requirement to continue wearing masks on the public transportation system.

Mr. Johnson has argued that, with vaccines widely deployed in the adult population, England must stick with plans to reopen its economy fully and shift the emphasis from legal restrictions to personal responsibility.

Nonetheless, the British health minister, Sajid Javid, acknowledged that infections could soar to more than 100,000 a day later in the summer. On Tuesday, Britain reported 36,660 new cases, a 27 percent increase over the same day last week.







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