THE Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has asked Transport for London to keep face coverings compulsory on all its services, even though the law will change on Monday in England so that the use of masks in crowded areas will be recommended but no longer compulsory.
In the case of TfL the rule will not now change next week, and wearing face coverings will be part of its Conditions of Carriage.
Some other Mayors also want passengers to continue wearing face coverings on their public transport networks, such as Manchester Metrolink, but masks will be a matter of personal choice on National Rail in England although compulsory in Scotland and Wales.
The RMT is concerned about the looming inconsistencies, and is warning that staff could be at risk.
The union's general secretary Mick Lynch said: 'Whilst we welcome the approach from the London Mayor this morning, which is consistent with the policies currently adopted in Scotland, Wales and on Eurostar, we now have the ludicrous position where a passenger travelling through London will have different rules on the tube and the main line services.
'There will also be a change of policy on trains at the Welsh and Scottish borders which is a total nonsense and will leave staff right at the sharp end and dangerously exposed when it comes to enforcement.
'As a result of this chaotic approach we now have a situation where the London measures are not enforceable by law which means RMT members will be thrown into a hostile and confrontational situation from next Monday at heightened risk of abuse and assault. That is wholly down to the confused, inconsistent and botched messaging from the Government.'
Labour's London Assembly member Elly Baker, whose brief is transport, added: 'It has been concerning to see such unclear and mixed messaging from Ministers over whether face masks should be worn on public transport after 19 July.
'With this announcement, it’s good to see the Mayor and TfL cutting through this confusion and showing leadership on this issue.
'It’s so important that transport workers are protected and that all Londoners can use tube, bus and rail services with the confidence that all the possible measures are being taken to keep them safe.
'As the Delta variant continues to surge, the Government should do the right thing and make wearing face masks on public transport a legal requirement. In the meantime, it is vital that other transport operators in London now follow TfL’s lead and make it a condition of carriage.'
The Rail Delivery Group is maintaining its stance over the issue by saying that the risk is low on trains, most of which are well-ventilated.