Face masks are set to remain mandatory on public transport across a number of regions in the north and west of England – despite rules lifting from Monday.
Dozens of English mayors have rebelled against Boris Johnson’s orders to scrap compulsory mask wearing from July 19, or so-called ‘Freedom Day’.
The mayors of Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, North of Tyne, and West of England slammed No 10’s latest approach to the pandemic and have taken matters into their own hands.
It comes after Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he was not willing to put people in the capital ‘at risk’ with the Government’s relaxing of rules, and announced Londoners must continue to wear them on public transport.
The mayors have joined forces to make mask wearing a ‘condition of carriage’, which will apply to the Underground and buses in London, the Metrolink tram in Greater Manchester, and the Tyne and Wear Metro.
Speaking at a joint press conference, the mayors outlined that, unlike Mr Khan, they do not have the powers to impose the blanket rule across all public transport services.
As they do not have control over the bus or mainline trains, mask wearing will not be compulsory on those services – with the leaders admitting this has forced a confusing set of rules into effect.
But Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said since the PM’s July 19 announcement, he had been ‘struck’ by the number of messages he’d received from worried residents who are clinically vulnerable.
Though he agreed that life needs to return to some form of normality, the mayor added: ‘We are still in a pandemic and we need to think in terms of collective safety, rather than individual freedom or personal responsibility.’
‘Masks protect others in these environments and one person’s choice not to wear one on a bus or a tram could affect the physical and mental health of passengers nearby – particularly those who are clinically extremely vulnerable,’ he added.
‘As we approach July 19, I have been struck by the number of concerns from people who are clinically vulnerable, who feel they will be more at risk on transport from next week, or forced off it altogether.
‘We do not believe that they should be put in that position.’
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