Sadiq Khan: Fines for mask refusers will ‘greatly’ help with compliance

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Sadiq Khan has said that passengers refusing to wear facemasks on the Tube will “be of great help in compliance”.

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From Tuesday, anyone who refuses to wear a face covering on public transport or in shops could face a fine of £200 or more, following a government announcement over the weekend.

The decision comes after the emergence of the Omicron version of COVID-19 in the UK, with at least three positive cases identified in England and six in Scotland.

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While masks have remained mandatory on public transport in London since the government lifted all COVID restrictions in July, TfL saw a decline in compliance as the rule was no longer legally enforceable.

Sadiq Khan has said that “we are working with one hand tied behind our back” without the ability to fine those who violate the rules, but that he is once again ready to make masks mandatory. We “heartily welcome” the decision of the government.

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Mr Khan said: “This is a measure that I have been calling on the government to implement for a long time. Evidence shows that wearing a face covering helps prevent the spread of the virus, and ensuring that it is applied will greatly help with compliance.

“With the Omicron version of COVID-19 now present in the UK, I urge Londoners to be vigilant. We know that wearing face coverings in closed or crowded places, washing your hands regularly, ventilating indoors properly and maintaining social distance wherever possible can greatly reduce the spread of the virus. gets difficult. ,

Face coverings have been a “state of the vehicle” on TfL services since July, but the lack of legal powers to enforce the rule has meant that TfL’s team of around 500 enforcement officers have to comply across the capital without the support of British Transport. Was omitted to be sure. police.

Just 126 passengers have been asked to leave TfL services for refusing to wear masks since July, despite 50 lakh passengers using the tube each day.

But those who refuse to wear masks from Tuesday could be fined £200 for the first offence, £400 for the second and £800 for the third offence.

Emma Gibson, director of travel watchdog London Travelwatch, has said making masks mandatory once again would be “reassuring to many”.

Ms Gibson said: “As MPs prepare to vote on the tightening of COVID restrictions later today, it is worth noting that research shows that others wearing face coverings may encourage people to travel on buses, trains and tubes. An important factor in making you feel safe about traveling is. ,

“The number of people wearing face coverings on public transport has dropped significantly in the last few months. Making them a requirement again on all public transport would be reassuring to many, but it would have to be implemented properly to signal that the rules had changed. ,

MPs will discuss the proposed changes to the Covid rules in Parliament on Monday, with the new rules expected to take effect early Tuesday.

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