London's Khan Calls for Return of Mandatory Masks on Public Transport in UK

London’s left-wing mayor Sadiq Khan has called for the government to make mask-wearing mandatory on public transport across the country.

Labour’s Khan has already made wearing masks a condition of carriage on Transport for London (TfL) controlled public transit, despite the law being lifted in England in the summer.

In a statement published by the mayor’s office on Friday, Khan urged all Londoners to be vaccinated against both influenza and Covid-19 and continue wearing masks as Winter approaches, adding that he is “calling on the government to put simple and effective steps, such as mandatory face coverings on public transport, in place to halt the spread of the virus now”.

The return of the mask mandate remains an option under the Conservative government’s ‘Plan B’ strategy should Chinese virus hospitalisations increase over the Winter. However, the government has been facing pressure from the doctors’ union the British Medical Association and the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations that deliver NHS services, to implement Plan B now.

Khan had expressed his disappointment when in July the government did not continue to force people in England to wear masks on public transport, instituting his own London mask mandate and in August going as far as lobbying the government for a by-law making not covering your face on TfL services a criminal offence.

Currently, London enforcement officers can refuse service on public transport to those not wearing masks, but as it is not a law they cannot issue fines. Khan said at the time he had been “trying to lobby the government to allow us to bring in a by-law so it will be the law again, so we can issue fixed penalty notices and we can use the police service and BTP [British Transport Police], as well, to enforce this”.

Last month, Khan claimed that the UK needed to introduce domestic vaccine passports —  a move that Prime Minister Johnson postponed from September but that remains an option under Plan B strategies.

“I think we may need vaccine passports. I think we’re not there yet, but we may need them,” Khan said last month, adding: “We’re not there yet. In principle, I’m not against them.”

Labour’s former leader Tony Blair that same day also claimed that the government should enforce vaccine passports and reintroduce mask-wearing, claiming it would prevent another lockdown, writing: “A viable Covid Pass, displaying both rapid testing and vaccine status, would mean that, even with higher case numbers, a person free of the virus would be free to move around in public.”

“This step, alongside further action on measures like mask-wearing, needs to be taken urgently to give businesses confidence that avoiding further lockdowns is more than an aspiration but is deliverable,” Blair added.

Other leftists have demanded the UK introduce domestic vaccine passports, including two-time failed U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who said last week: “I do think it is imperative that the prime minister do what he can to stop the rise in Covid in the UK. He doesn’t need to shut the society down but he does need to mandate vaccines,” before clarifying mandating vaccine passports which employers must also demand of their staff.

“I think you have got to make it clear that we are not going to go back into lockdown — that is not going to happen. But, if you don’t get vaccinated, if you don’t have proof of vaccination if you go into a club or a restaurant, and employers don’t enforce vaccines, we may see some problems, here, in the UK, when the weather gets colder and people are forced back inside again,” Mrs Clinton said.

Brexit leader Nigel Farage warned of the danger of a potential two-tiered society, separating the “jabbed” and “jabbed-nots”.

“I don’t want to live in a two-tier society, don’t want to live in a society where those who for reasons of conscience or belief don’t choose to be jabbed become effectively social outcasts… the whole thing is completely and utterly loathsome,” said Farage.

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