Transport for London (TfL) will no longer require customers to wear face coverings on its services from tomorrow, 24 February.
However, it will still recommend wearing them if customers are able to.
This comes after considering the shift in the government’s approach towards living with the virus and decreasing infection rates in London.
Lilli Matson, Chief Safety, Health and Environment Officer for TfL, said: “All customers should be assured that the public transport network is as safe as other similar settings, and that independent testing has found no trace of coronavirus on our network since September 2020.
“We look forward to continuing to welcome customers back to our network as we help London and the economy recover.”
The changes respond to the current pandemic situation in London and will allow TfL to continue to provide safe transport services for its customers and colleagues.
TfL has accounted for evidence about the proven effectiveness of face coverings as well as the results of independent testing by Imperial College London for coronavirus on the public transport network.
However, the announcement has not been well-received by everyone.
London TravelWatch CEO, Emma Gibson said: ‘Research continues to show that people feel safer using public transport if passengers are wearing a face covering, with 69% of people feeling this way in the latest survey by Transport Focus.
“And we also know that this figure is even higher for older people and those who use public transport more regularly’.
Last week, TfL was seeing around 2.2-2.5m journeys per weekday on the Tube, which was around 60% of pre-pandemic levels.
Weekday bus ridership is now regularly at around 4.5m journeys a day, about 75% of pre-pandemic levels.
At weekends, Tube and bus ridership is even closer to pre-pandemic levels – with the Tube reaching 75% of pre-pandemic levels last weekend and certain times of the day reaching close to 75-80% of pre-pandemic levels.
TfL also strongly encourages the continued use of face coverings in taxis and private hire vehicles by both drivers and passengers, unless they are exempt.