London to make not wearing a face mask a criminal offence

al sahawat times covid19

Failing to wear a face mask on the London Underground to be a criminal offence

COVID19 | Face Masks | Law | Crime | London

Fact Box: The metro (or Subway for our American readers) in London is officially called the “Underground” but is more commonly referred to as the ‘Tube’.

London Mayor, Sadiq Khan is seeking to make it a criminal offence, not to wear a face mask on the ‘Tube’. Currently not wearing a mask on the tube is punishable by means of a fine and being removed from the tube system, although this is rarely enforced currently.

The UK is currently experiencing high numbers of infections and deaths in a surge of COVID outbreaks following the total removal of almost all COVID restrictions, a move condemned by the international community. London, unlike the rest of England, does still require the wearing of face masks on public transport.

Khan is now seeking to pass a Greater London Assembly (Regional government of London, similar to how Wales has the Welsh Assembly and Scotland has the Scottish Parliament) bye-law to allow state owned TFL (Transport for London) to make arrests and criminal prosecutions for those refusing to wear face masks or not wearing their masks correctly on London’s vast public transport network.

Khan argues that criminalising the act of not correctly wearing a face mask on public transport will reduce the growing rate of infections in the capital. Khan also said this will increase confidence of commuters to return to work as well as encouraging the staggeringly large number of unemployed to look for work as well as bringing tourists back to London’s West End.

Currently, wearing a face mask on the tube is technically a “condition of carriage” rather than a law. This means that you can be removed from the transport system, it would even be difficult to enforce a fine, but you will not face a criminal record or arrest. Khan wishes to change this.

Currently England, where the requirement to wear face masks and socially distance were completely removed on 19 July 2021,  does not have the same regulations around face masks as London, where some restrictions and regulations remain.

Khan’s bye-laws would also shift responsibility for enforcement from being solely on TFL’s 400 strong Enforcement Officers to being enforceable by London’s Met Police and British Transport Police.


© 2021 Al-Sahawat Times, Printed and Distributed by IPMG, an Al-Said Group entity. 

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Francesca Webb
Official account of Francesca Webb. Canadian-Italian globetrotter, journalist and PR manager.