TfL to no longer require face coverings to be worn on its services
Following the UK government’s decision to lift all COVID-19 restrictions, face coverings will no longer be required on Transport for London services from 24 February 2022, though TfL will continue to strongly recommend their use.
Transport for London (TfL) has announced that customers will no longer be required to wear face coverings as a condition of carriage on its services from 24 February 2022, having considered a variety of factors – including the shift in the UK government’s approach towards living with the virus and the decreasing infection rates in London.
TfL has also considered evidence about the proven effectiveness of face coverings, as well as the results of independent testing by Imperial College London for COVID-19 on the public transport network since September 2020. The changes respond to the current pandemic situation in London and will allow TfL to continue to provide safe transport services for its customers and colleagues.
Despite this, TfL strongly encourages customers to wear face coverings on its services, as well as in taxis and private hire vehicles by both drivers and passengers, unless they are exempt in order to drive down transmission of the virus and to keep each other as safe as possible. Research suggests that a good-quality face covering can help to reduce the chance of catching COVID-19 and passing it onto others, and face coverings have also played an important role in giving people confidence to use public transport throughout the pandemic, particularly those who are vulnerable.
In recent weeks, TfL has seen public transport use grow as London recovers from the pandemic, with weekday journeys on the London Underground (Tube) having increased to around 60 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in mid-February 2022. Additionally, weekday bus ridership is now regularly at around 4.5 million journeys a day, representing approximately 75 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
These figures indicate that millions of Londoners are regularly using public transport across the city, showing continued confidence that services are safe, clean and reliable.
A near-normal service continues to operate across London’s public transport network and a number of active travel options, including walking and cycling routes in central London and the Santander Cycles network, are available to customers all over the capital.
Lilli Matson, Chief Safety, Health and Environment Officer for Transport for London, said: “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 2022, 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 that 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.”
TfL’s enhanced cleaning regime continues to ensure the transport network is cleaner than ever. The transport network is also well ventilated, with train and bus doors opening frequently to ensures a regular exchange of air across the public transport network, while the constant movement of trains draws fresh air into the system. In the deeper Tube lines, ventilation shafts and fans supplement this air movement.