Commuters face being told to wear and not wear masks at SAME train station

Commuters face being told to wear and not wear masks at SAME train station
Commuters face being told to wear and not wear masks at SAME train station

Rail commuters will endure mixed messaging on face masks from next Thursday when they are no longer legally compulsory, after it emerged they will still be mandatory on Transport for London services - but not others.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is ending the compulsory wearing of masks on public transport in England from January 27, but London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said they will remain a 'condition of carriage' on all TfL services.

This means those who do not wear face coverings while travelling on the Underground, Overground, buses, trams or river boats through the capital may be prevented from boarding or asked to leave the network unless exempt.

However the threat of a fine will be dropped from next Thursday because it will be no longer legally enforceable –although it will still be until that point under rules brought in on November 30, 2021 due to the Omicron variant.

And TfL said its 500 uniformed enforcement officers and 'police partners' will be out across the network over the next few days ensuring that customers comply with the Government regulation until it changes next Thursday. 

TfL said 'those who do not wear face coverings may be prevented from using our services or asked to leave the network', and the Labour mayor's stance was backed by union bosses at the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association.

But the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the UK's train operators, said today that National Rail operators would only ask people to wear masks in busy indoor settings - and this would be guidance, and not enforced.

A spokesman for the RDG, which will not make masks a 'condition of carriage', said: 'Passengers should follow the government guidance and, as a courtesy to others, wear face coverings if an indoor setting is busy.' 

This creates the bizarre situation in London where face masks will be required on some services but not others travelling on the same tracks between the same stations, because one is operated by TfL and the other is not.

Examples of this include Kensington Olympia to Shepherd's Bush, where masks will be required on Overground trains but not on Southern; Upminster to Barking, where masks will be required on District line trains but not on c2c; and King's Cross to Kentish Town, where masks are needed on Northern line trains but not on Thameslink. 

The changes on face mask rules are likely to coincide with a surge in passenger numbers on public transport after the Government lifted the working from guidance - which had been in place for over a month since December 13. 

Commenting on the decision to remove Plan B restrictions, Emma Gibson, director of transport watchdog London TravelWatch, said: 'Seven out of ten people say that they feel safer on public transport if other people are wearing face coverings, this figure is even higher for older people and those who use public transport more regularly.'

Commuters cram into the carriage of a Jubilee line train at Waterloo station on the London Underground this morning

Commuters cram into the carriage of a Jubilee line train at Waterloo station on the London Underground this morning

Commuters wear face masks as the travel on the Jubilee Line in East London during rush hour this morning

Commuters wear face masks as the travel on the Jubilee Line in East London during rush hour this morning

Commuters at Waterloo station in London make their way into offices today after advice to work from home was dropped

Commuters at Waterloo station in London make their way into offices today after advice to work from home was dropped

The current face mask rule stickers from Transport for London, pictured today, are a common sight on Underground trains

The current face mask rule stickers from Transport for London, pictured today, are a common sight on Underground trains

Commuters wear masks as they stand or walk on an escalator at Waterloo station on the London Underground this morning

Commuters wear masks as they stand or walk on an escalator at Waterloo station on the London Underground this morning

People wearing face masks walk past a Covid-19 mask rules poster at Piccadilly Circus station in London this morning

People wearing face masks walk past a Covid-19 mask rules poster at Piccadilly Circus station in London this morning

Commuters in London spoken to by MailOnline this morning supported the Government's decision to scrap work from home guidance but also expressed concerns that it might lead to a spike in Covid cases.

Daniel Myers, 33, an IT worker who was travelling to his office from Ealing Broadway in West London, said: 'It doesn't really affect me because I've been going into work despite the guidance. 

Do you have to wear a mask on a train in England from next Thursday?
Transport for London: Yes. Wearing a face covering will be compulsory as a 'condition of carriage' across all TfL trains including Underground and Overground services unless you are exempt. Those who do not comply could be denied entry or asked to leave. Avanti West Coast: No c2c: No Caledonian Sleeper: No Chiltern Railways: No CrossCountry: No  East Midlands Railway: No  Gatwick Express: No Grand Central: No Great Northern: No Great Western Railway: No Greater Anglia: No Heathrow Express: No Hull Trains: No LNER: No London Northwestern Railway: No Lumo: No Merseyrail: No Northern: No  South Western Railway: No Southeastern: No Southern: No Stansted Express: No Thameslink: No TransPennine Express: No  West Midlands Railway: No

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'We were given a choice and I don't like working from home. I think it's better for everyone that we all go back to work because it will help to get the economy moving again too. But it's going to get a lot busier on the buses and trains and my worry is that it's going to increase the chances of catching Covid.'

Sheila O'Rourke, 29, who works in a central London restaurant, said: 'We've got to get back to normal life so it's a good decision because we can't all stay indoors hiding from Covid.

'I haven't stopped going to work because the restaurant has stayed open but it's a good decision, even though it might lead to an increase in Covid rates. But a lot of people are vaccinated and have had the booster so that will give us a lot of protection.'

Station staff said that they had noticed a significant increase in passenger numbers although they expected that to change from next week.

A member of staff at Ealing Broadway said: 'The announcement on WFH has only just been made and I think a full return will start happening from next week.

'It's not been a hectic rush hour this morning, but my worry is that you're going to see the usual madness pretty soon. Passengers just have to make sure that they are wearing masks, which will still be a legal requirement because we don't want Covid cases to rise.'

Paul Lambert, 44, who was travelling from Kew to his office in Central London, said: 'I've been in and out of work for a while now since the last lockdown ended. I think it's a difficult decision, to send people back to work and I hope that that it's the right decision.'

Jane Doe, 50, said: 'I stopped going to work during the previous lockdowns but have continued over the past few weeks. I think it's absolutely safe enough, especially for young people.'

Sanjeev Sharma, 38 who works in an electrical company and was travelling to his office from Northfields Underground station, said: 'It's a good decision but I'm also a bit worried. I've been doing a mix of working from home and going into the office as have a lot of people.

'The tubes and buses are going to get packed again although they weren't like that today and my worry is that more people are going to get Covid.'

Neil Davies, who was travelling from Richmond station, said: 'As long as people are careful, I think it's OK for them to return to work, but we still have a long way to go.'

Mr Khan said yesterday that wearing a face covering is one of the most important things people can do to prevent the virus from spreading, and insisted that the fight against the virus had not ended. 

Commuters walk along the concourse at London Waterloo train station while others check information boards this morning

Commuters walk along the concourse at London Waterloo train station while others check information boards this morning 

Commuters sit on a Northern line train during rush hour this morning as they make their way through London

Commuters sit on a Northern line train during rush hour this morning as they make their way through London  

Commuters walk through a passageway at London Euston train station during rush hour this morning

Commuters walk through a passageway at London Euston train station during rush hour this morning

Commuters sit on a Northern line train during rush hour this morning as they make their way through London

Commuters sit on a Northern line train during rush hour this morning as they make their way through London

Commuters wait for information on boards at London King's Cross station this morning after work from home guidance ended

Commuters wait for information on boards at London King's Cross station this morning after work from home guidance ended

People wear masks as they walk near a London Underground sign in Piccadilly Circus this morning

People wear masks as they walk near a London Underground sign in Piccadilly Circus this morning

Commuters wait for a Northern line train during rush hour this morning as they make their way into London

Commuters wait for a Northern line train during rush hour this morning as they make their way into London

He said: 'Wearing a face covering is one of the single most important and easiest things we can all do to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and the Government should rethink their plans and keep legislation in place to make them mandatory on public transport as well as in shops and indoor public venues.

So what is changing... and when will it happen? Your guide to the post-curb rules as Boris Johnson announces the end of Covid Plan B restrictions

 IMMEDIATELY

WORKING FROM HOME 

The Prime Minister said the Government is no longer asking people to work from home. He called on people to speak to their employers about arrangements for returning to the office.

FROM TODAY

MASKS IN SCHOOLS

From today, secondary school pupils will not have to wear face coverings in classrooms.

The requirement to wear masks in corridors and other communal areas will end next Thursday, January 27.

FROM NEXT THURSDAY

MASKS IN PUBLIC PLACES

From next Thursday, the Government will no longer legally mandate the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport.

But they will continue to suggest masks

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