Sadiq Khan: Non-mask wearers on TfL could face penalties through 'bylaw'

22 July 2021, 12:15

By Tim Dodd

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has told LBC he's considering making mask-wearing a 'bylaw', meaning non-mask wearers could face potential prosecution.

The conversation comes after Sadiq Khan announced last week that face masks remain compulsory on London transport after July 19.

Byelaws are local laws made by councils requiring something to be done – or not done – in a certain area. Non-observance of them can result in sanctions or penalties.

James O'Brien began by challenging the Mayor: "Two things. I catch two tubes and usually one bus every day. I've never, ever, ever seen anybody checking or enforcing. The second thing is, do you have a date in mind for when you'll lift the arguably not hugely effective insistence that people have to wear masks on public transport?"

"I can't respond to your personal experience except to say I'm sorry," Mr Khan replied.

"The survey work we've done shows that - and it's a month old now - 86% of people using public transport are wearing a face mask, and the 14% that wasn't was because two-thirds were exempt.

"From the 19th of July, we can't use the police service, we can't use the British Transport Police, all we can use are our enforcement officers. Why? Because it's not the law now, it's what's called a condition of carriage."

Read more: Sadiq Khan: London's 999 workers, food supply and TfL staff must be exempt from 'pings'

James asked: "How many officers have you got?"

"Just north of 400," the Mayor replied.

James said: "So you've got 400 staff for several million journeys? That's why I'm not seeing any of them doing anything."

Mr Khan then said: "We are though, looking into making the condition of carriage a by-law, which would mean we'd be able to use the police and the BTP as well."

James asked: "Do you think you'll continue wearing one long after you're required to wear one?"

Mr Khan then said he will "for the foreseeable future."

He continued: "As winter comes I'm worried about [the virus] evolving and mutating so I think for the rest of this year face masks will probably be here in some form or another."

Read more: Sadiq Khan 'not in favour' of vaccine passports for TfL services

In London there are 270 Underground stations, approximately 700 bus routes, but only around 400 enforcement officers. This doesn't take into account the DLR, London Overground or National Rail routes.