Almost 50,000 stopped for not having a face mask when boarding London transport

By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter

Transport staff have had to stop 47,700 people from getting on the Tube, bus and overground trains until they put on a face covering.

According to the latest Transport for London (TfL) data, most of the people they stopped took a face covering from their bag or pocket or went off to buy one.

The figures are some 12,000 more than the previous week’s total, which excluded Tubes and train journeys.

And transport staff stopped 3,457 people getting on board, with a further 886 ejected from public transport in the capital, according to the latest figures.

The latest TfL figures show that 66.5m journeys were taken on the transport network between May 26 and June 22.

The figures are slowly increasing from the 298m journeys throughout February – the last month before lockdown started.

In April, during the height of lockdown when people were asked to stay away unless they were key workers, there were 37.9m journeys on public transport.

New laws mean it is illegal to travel on public transport without a face covering. The new rules came into force on June 15.

TfL decided to start with a softer approach as people got used to wearing face coverings.

It started issuing fixed penalty notices from the weekend of July 4 – also dubbed Super Saturday – when pubs, hairdressers, restaurants and other venues could reopen.

Over that first weekend, some 200 TfL staff stopped an estimated 3,000 people from boarding trams and buses before putting on a mask.

They also offered face coverings for travellers who didn’t have one.

Since then TfL enforcement trends gave out 239 fixed penalty notices to travellers who refused to wear a face mask on buses and trams.

The fines cost £100 – but people get a 50 per cent discount if they pay within a fortnight.

Siwan Hayward, director of compliance, policing and on-street at Transport for London, said: “Any incident of violence against our staff will not be tolerated.”

He said staff deserved to be treated with respect and added the rules were there to help control the spread of coronavirus.

And the Unite union’s lead officer for buses in London, John Murphy, said: “I am aware that some members of public have felt the need to be abusive, and in some instances, use threats, and even force. “

He raised the issue with their employers.

Children under the age of 11 are exempt from wearing face coverings.

People with some physical and mental illnesses or disability, those helping lip readers and people who experience “severe distress” wearing face coverings are also exempt.

Pictured top: A passenger wears a face mast on a London bus


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