No passengers have yet been fined for not wearing a face mask on Transport for London services, 15 days after the Government made them mandatory for everyone.
Photographs taken on the London Underground in rush hour today showed there is still non-compliance with the rule which aims to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Passengers were mostly sat apart while commuting on the Jubilee line, but many had a face mask pulled below their mouth while some were wearing no covering at all However it was not clear whether anyone not wearing a mask is in an exempt group.
It comes as Conservative MP James Sunderland said it was ‘dispiriting’ that people were still breaching the rule as the UK’s lockdown measures are gradually eased.
TfL has suggested that fines were not yet being handed out to flouters in the capital because staff are not ‘confident customers understand the new requirements’.
A woman not wearing a face mask looks at her phone on a Jubilee line train in London today
A man holds onto a handrail on a Jubilee line train this morning while not wearing a mask
A passenger wears a mask below his mouth on a London Underground train this morning
A man looks at his phone while commuting on a Jubilee line service today with no face mask
Former military medic Donna Sargent tweeted TfL this morning, asking: ‘Hey TfL. how’s about you start enforcing wearing a mask on public transport rule?
‘I didn’t spend ten weeks working in ITU treating Covid-19 patients for selfish a***holes to flout the rule and continue spreading this s***ty virus.’
TfL, whose chairman is Mayor Sadiq Khan, responded to her, saying: ‘Initially we will be engaging with customers and explaining that there is a requirement to wear a face covering on public transport.
‘Once we are confident customers understand the new requirements, enforcement, which may include being refused entry or being fined, will start.
‘Enforcement on the use of face coverings remains the responsibility of our policing partners and enforcement officers.’
TfL’s press office has also been asked for comment by MailOnline today.
Speaking in the House of Commons last night, Bracknell MP Mr Sunderland said it was ‘dispiriting to see packed beaches, passengers without face masks on public transport and other mass gatherings.’
There are some people who are exempt from the rule, including children under the age of 11, police in the course of their duty and members of the emergency services responding to an incident.
Face masks become mandatory on public transport in England on June 15, with people warned they face a fine of £100 if caught not wearing one.
Some 3,000 British Transport Police officers were deployed to the busiest rail stations in the first week of the new rules to ensure passengers were complying.
Constables have been told they have the power to use ‘reasonable force’ to pull passengers off trains and buses if they refuse to wear face masks.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing said those who flout the restrictions risk £100 fines but these should only be issued as a ‘last resort’.
Police are so far taking a soft approach with people gently reminded of the rules, but could resort to tougher enforcement as passengers numbers rise.
The new rules were enshrined under the same public health legislation used to fine people who flouted lockdown rules at the beginning of the outbreak.
This means it is the responsibility of police, and not transport staff, to enforce them. BTP has so far failed to say whether it has issued a single fine, and has again been asked about the matter today.
The mask rule was announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on June 4. It was timed to coincide with the reopening of non-essential shops in England.
He said it was needed to help control the spread of the virus, but ministers and scientists have been divided on the public health benefits of wearing face masks.
Transport for London has suggested that fines were not yet being handed out to flouters in the capital because staff are not ‘confident customers understand the new requirements’
A man reads a newspaper while not wearing his mask during his commute on the Tube today
Some commuters wear masks while others have them pulled down below their mouth today
A man commutes with his mask below his mouth on a London Underground train this morning
Last week Mr Shapps announced that public transport services in England will be ramped up over the next few weeks as the lockdown is eased.
Bus and train timetables will be increased to 85 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by next Monday, but people will still be urged to avoid using them where possible.
Large parts of England’s hospitality industry will reopen on July 4, including pubs, restaurants, hotels and visitor attractions.
Indoor gatherings involving two separate households will be permitted from the same date.
A man looks at his phone while travelling on the Tube today with his mask below his mouth
A commuter travels without wearing a face mask on the London Underground this morning
British Transport Police are pictured on a Great Western Railway train from from Worcester to Gloucester this morning. They said they were ‘encouraging the use of face coverings’
Meanwhile the RAC said a third of drivers will take to the road this weekend to celebrate the easing of the lockdown.
More than 10million Britons will be escaping their homes for an overnight stay on Saturday, the motoring group’s poll found.
Officials are now braced for chaos on what is expected to be the busiest weekend on the roads this year, as many choose to avoid public transport for fear of infection.
It marks a stark contrast to two months ago, when the traffic on the roads plummeted to mid-1950s levels.