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Covid: Enforced mask rules on London public transport to combat Omicron

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Samuel Brent
Sam is a born and bred North Londoner. Growing up in Archway, attending primary school at Montem Juniors in Holloway, and secondary school at Acland Burghley in Tufnell Park. After success with his A-Levels at LA SWAP, he studied film at the London College of Printing (later the London College of Communication) in the Elephant and Castle and then Clerkenwell. This led to working with the Guardian in Farringdon, and a career in Journalism. After years of a miss-spent youth in Camden Town, Sam now lives in Belsize Park with his wife Marina and their two children, Esme and Primrose. Samuel enjoys Gardening and cycling, and is an avid Arsenal fan and works out of his office in Shoreditch.

Several enforcement officers from Transport for London (TfL) attended several public transport stops throughout London on Tuesday and swooped on commuters who were not wearing them while on the bus, train or underground.

The renewal of the mask rules on London public transport kicked in today (30th November). Enforcement teams have been active across London targeting those who fail to wear a proper face covering. Next time they could face a fine or even prosecution. Their recent activity has taken place at Stratford, Canning Town and Victoria.

Across the capital, they were also patrolling buses, trams and DLR trains.

At Victoria, in central London, a team of four officers were positioned throughout the station. They stopped all those who didn’t have a mask and issued them with a warning that they would fine anyone who didn’t wear a face-covering at a later date. The officers made sure that they shouted, “face coverings are mandatory on the Tube network” as commuters passed by.

wearing masks on London public transport

One of the enforcement teams stated that most people listened and apologised for not wearing a mask. There have been people in the past who haven’t listened but it seemed that people responded well to being asked politely to wear a face-covering.

Many commuters were not wearing face masks and had to be reminded but the majority were protecting themselves and others. There were even some commuters who were wearing gas mask-style respirators. This is because the new Omicron strain of Covid is hitting Britain, and therefore increasing concerns.

Posterboard warnings and the public address system have addressed that they will be no tolerance for people who do not wear a face-covering when it is required. From 4 a.m. on Tuesday, face coverings are mandatory, and the penalties for not wearing one will include fines as the protection against the Omicron Covid variant is increased.

Since the legal Covid restrictions were relaxed in July, wearing a face mask has been a condition of travel on TfL services, but they were not compulsory by law as they had been earlier during the Pandemic.

After the Government rules kicked in, the enforcement of face-covering rules on the Underground, buses and other services run by Transport for London would be boosted, according to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

Some people are exempt from wearing masks.

A large majority of commuters welcomed the enforcement of the rules with one person saying that the rules should be respected and that masks should be worn to protect others, no matter what age you are.

Some people claimed they had medical conditions, but in the end, they welcomed the intervention of the officers.

At Waterloo, notice boards were put up around the station to remind people of the mask rules. Also, the estimate of the number of commuters wearing masks on the Jubilee Underground Line was eight in ten.

According to the mayor of London, mask-wearing is the most effective public health measure at tackling Covid. He agrees with the Government’s announcement that face-coverings are now compulsory in public transport and shops around the country.

“Provided with proper enforcement powers, TfL will now be able to work with policing partners and really boost compliance on the network, with the selfish few who refuse to wear a face-covering facing a penalty fine, rather than just being denied entry to transport services. TfL enforcement officers will continue to monitor compliance across the network to keep passengers and staff as safe as possible.”

Siwan Hayward, The Director of Compliance, Policing, Operations and Security at TfL said that the majority of people have been doing the right thing during the Pandemic to keep each other safe. All commuters are required to wear face coverings on public transport unless they are exempt as part of the fight against Covid according to a regulation issued by the government.

Hayward further stated that this requirement will be enforced by their enforcement officers and their Police partners, with additional powers as a result of the Government’s regulation, issuing financial penalties to those who refuse to follow the rules. They will take action to make sure that their customers and staffs are safe on their network.

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