Transport for London (TfL) has warned the small minority of people breaking the law by failing to wear a face covering on public transport that they must wear one or face a hefty fine. TfL reports more than 90% compliance at the busiest times of the day, but says a small number of people continue to put public health at risk by flouting the law.
Since 4 July, when TfL enforcement officers moved to an enforcement phase after previously explaining the requirement and encouraging compliance, officers have carried out around 105,000 interventions with people not wearing a face covering or not wearing it in the correct way covering the nose and mouth. Most complied after being spoken to by an officer. Around 7,600 were stopped from boarding and 1,800 people removed from services. It uses fixed penalty notices as a last resort where necessary – with around 400 fines issued by TfL officers to those refusing to comply. Following new measures introduced by the Government, TfL and the police have powers to issue stronger penalties and to prosecute those more persistent offenders.
Heidi Alexander, London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport, said: “Wearing a face covering properly on public transport is vital to help control the spread of the virus, and it’s encouraging that 90% of passengers are doing so during the busiest times of day. But we need everyone to play their part and comply, unless they are exempt. The police and TfL’s enforcement officers are working hard to ensure that the selfish minority who are not complying are targeted, and if necessary, refused entry to the network and fined. Only by working together and following the rules can we fight the virus and keep our public transport network as safe as possible.”
Professor Kevin Fenton, London Regional Director for Public Health England, said: “Cases of Covid-19 are increasing in London and we need to take action now and do everything we can to slow the spread. Wearing a face covering is one of the simple steps we can take to protect each other from coronavirus – the best evidence shows that covering your nose and mouth reduces the risk of passing on the virus to those near us. This is especially important when other measures like social distancing are more difficult, such as on public transport.”