80% wear face masks on Tube on first day of new law

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More than 80% of Tube and bus passengers in the capital are now wearing face masks when they travel, Transport for London (TfL) has said.

Face coverings on public transport are mandatory in England from 15 June, under new rules introduced as lockdown eases.

And TfL said there was high compliance in the city – with an estimated 80% of bus user and up to 90% of Tube passengers covering up.

A spokesperson said the network is “very pleased at the high level of compliance” on the first day the new law is in force.

British Transport Police, Metropolitan Police officers and TfL enforcement staff are at stations – but will not be handing out fines or stopping people from travelling, they said.

Fines will be a “last resort” after a “bedding in period”, the spokesperson added.

Emerging scientific evidence suggests masks do not protect the wearer from catching coronavirus – but they can stop those with the disease passing it to others.

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Anyone with Covid-19 symptoms must self-isolate at home for seven days – but masks could prevent those who have the virus but are showing no symptoms from spreading it.

England’s new travel law came into force as high street shops, department stores and shopping centres began to reopen.

In London, Tube and bus use has already begun to rise from lockdown lows –though TfL is still asking passengers to avoid its network except for essential journeys.

But Deputy Mayor for Transport Heidi Alexandersaid there has been “more of a trickle back to the Tube network than a surge”.

Tube use is up from a low of 5% of normal journeys to between 10-12% last week, she told the London Assembly’s transport committee.

With some buses still not charging passengers, data for bus use is less reliable – but TfL estimates passenger numbers are up from a low of 15% to between 25-30% of normal levels now.

And despite shops reopening, those figures from last week were “replicated again this morning”, Ms Alexander said.

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