Coronavirus: London commuters ‘should wear face masks’

Coronavirus: London commuters 'should wear face masks'

A woman wearing PPE (personal protective equipment), including a face mask as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, reads a newspaper as she stands aboard a London Underground Tube train, i

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Getty Images

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London Underground journeys were up 10% on compared to last Monday, according to the Mayor of London.

Face masks should be worn on public transport in London, transport bosses have said.

Transport for London (TfL) gave fresh guidance after Boris Johnson said people “should be actively encouraged to go to work” from Wednesday, if they cannot work from home.

It said services would only be able to carry 13-15% of the normal passenger numbers, to maintain social distancing.

Some commuters said they were “dreading” using the Tube again.

Carys Barton, who has been driving into work at Imperial College NHS Trust during the lockdown, said she was worried about being “forced back into public transport again” if roads become too busy.

“I can see us putting ourselves at further risk to soon if we are all packed in like sardines on that Tube again.”

Journeys on the Tube were up 10% earlier compared to last Monday, according to the mayor of London.

The guidance issued by TfL calls on commuters to “reimagine” their journeys as “significant changes” are required for the way commuters travel.

People are advised to “work from home if possible” and if they need to travel, “to think about the times, routes and ways”.

Facial coverings should be used when travelling, particularly “where social distancing is hard to maintain”, TfL said.

People are advised to cycle or walk where possible and not to travel at peak times.

TfL warned that while it planned to increase the number of buses and Tube trains running, the services “will only be able to carry around 13-15% of the normal number of passengers” to maintain social distancing.

How difficult is it to get London back to work?

Analysis by Daniel Wainwright

The Prime Minister has said people should avoid public transport “if at all possible”.

For over two thirds of commuters in Great Britain, driving to work is the norm anyway.

However in London commuters are far more reliant on bus and rail services, according to figures from the Department for Transport.

In 2018 nearly six out of 10 workers in London used public transport, including buses, trains and the Tube, while in most other regions it was only about one in 10.

Just over a quarter of London’s five million workers would drive to their jobs, compared with between seven and eight out of 10 elsewhere.

People in London and the south of England were also the most likely to be able to work from home.

Analysis of the Annual Population Survey by the Office for National Statistics showed about a third of people in London and the south of England had ever worked at home compared to just a fifth of people in the North East.

However, before the coronavirus outbreak, working from home all the time was something only about one in 20 Londoners (5.5%) did.

Construction worker Peter Osu said he felt he was “putting my family at risk” returning to work for the first time since the lockdown started.

He said: “People were sitting close together on the Jubilee line and others were having to stand.

“There was no two-metre spacing. This is the first day, can you imagine what it’s going to look like by the end of the week?”

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PA Media

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Passenger numbers at Waterloo station, London’s commuter hub, remained low on Monday

Grant Ciccone said: “The use of masks will have to be enforced by the government before travel on the public Tube system and buses can be encouraged.”

Commuter Gerry Tiernan, head of production in the costume department at English National Ballet, said she was “worried” about increased passenger numbers.

She said: “It’s going to be pure luck as to whether you get [Covid-19] or not.”

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