face masks on the london underground tube train

Risk of violence to railway workers over Government’s ‘chaotic’ face mask rules

Image credit: Dreamstime

The Mayor of London has asked TfL to retain the mandate for wearing masks on public transport due to the continuing rise in Covid-19 cases in the capital, but a rail union has warned the move could trigger threats of violence against its members.

While the Government is scrapping the mask mandate in public indoor areas in England from next week, Mayor Sadiq Khan is making an exception to this rule in London.

Further adding to the confusion, the Transport Secretary has offered his support for the decision saying the move is “very much in line” with what ministers want to happen despite the broad lifting of restrictions next Monday.

He told Sky News: “Whilst we are going from this being a legal requirement to guidelines, we do expect individual carriers to make sure they are putting in place whatever is appropriate for their network.”

Khan said he was “not prepared” to put Tube, tram and bus users in the capital “at risk” by removing the rules on face coverings after so-called “freedom day”.

Under the terms of use, enforcement officers would be able to deny access or eject passengers found to be non-compliant while using the Transport for London network.

The boss of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) said he broadly supported the Mayor’s decision as it is consistent with the policies currently adopted in Scotland, Wales and on the Eurostar.

But he added: “We now have the ludicrous position where a passenger travelling through London will have different rules on the tube and the main line services.

“There will also be a change of policy on trains at the Welsh and Scottish borders which is a total nonsense and will leave staff right at the sharp end and dangerously exposed when it comes to enforcement.

“As a result of this chaotic approach we now have a situation where the London measures are not enforceable by law, which means RMT members will be thrown into a hostile and confrontational situation from next Monday at heightened risk of abuse and assault. That is wholly down to the confused, inconsistent and botched messaging from the Government.”

Meanwhile, leading medics have also called for face masks to be mandatory in healthcare settings, in a letter to the Prime Minister, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in England, the British Medical Association, British Dental Association, Royal College of Nursing and the College of Optometrists called for mandatory use of face masks, social distancing and regular

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