But customers and staff will be ‘strongly recommended’ to wear face coverings regardless, in line with advice to passengers using national rail services.
TfL is also urging the use of face coverings in taxis and private hire vehicles by both drivers and passengers.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has told people to keep wearing masks out of ‘consideration’, calling face coverings a ‘simple, effective measure that give Londoners confidence to travel’.
Daily virus cases have been falling as the Omicron surge that sparked a wave of panic during the winter fades.
Mask advocates claim that people ‘feel safer using public transport if passengers are wearing a face covering’.
Emma Gibson, London TravelWatch’s CEO, said polling showed 69 per cent of people feel more confident using Tubes and buses if masks are worn.
She added: ‘We also know that this figure is even higher for older people and those who use public transport more regularly’.
Commuters with face coverings get off a Transport for London (TfL) underground train in London on January 31, 2022
People getting on a bus at a station in central London on February 15, 2022
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called masks a ‘simple, effective measure that give Londoners confidence to travel’. He said: ‘I urge passengers to be considerate of their fellow Londoners and continue to wear a face covering where appropriate unless exempt’
What is the timetable for ‘Living With Covid’
- Self-isolation law axed
- People will still be advised to stay at home if positive
- Vaccinated contacts and under-18s no longer have to test for seven days
- Requirement for non-vaccinated contacts to isolate dropped.
- End to routine contact tracing
- End to self-isolation payments
- End to legal obligation for people to tell employers when they self-isolate
From March 24:
- Enhanced statutory sick pay removed so people can only claim from day four.
From April 1:
- Free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing will end for general public.
- Symptomatic elderly and vulnerable will still have access to provision, with UKHSA deciding later how it is allocated.
- Government will no longer ‘advise’ people to isolate when positive, although they will be ‘encouraged’.
- Surveillance by the ONS and other bodies will continue to detect threats from variants.
- Government will no longer recommend the use of Covid certification, although the NHS app will continue to allow people to indicate their vaccination status for international travel.
Travel and transport union TSSA said it will continue to support the wearing of face coverings across public transport.
Its organising director, Lorraine Ward, said: ‘Our union has been consistent throughout this terrible pandemic in putting safety first and that is why we believe TfL is right to strongly recommend that customers and staff continue to use face coverings where and when possible.
‘While no longer mandatory it’s well documented that the use of masks and coverings help to keep infection rates down. So many of our members have been on the frontline in the fight against Covid, and still are.
‘We must do all we can to keep transport workers out of harm’s way, as well as those who may still be vulnerable. This is about continuing to act sensibly, taking precautions and making sure that services, which so many rely on each day, can be used safely.
‘Our union will also be highlighting the need for TfL to provide Covid-safe workplaces, which have been properly risk assessed to reduce transmission among those working across the network.’
London last week had the highest infection rates in England, with 5.3 per cent of the city’s population likely to test positive for Covid in the week to February 12, according to the Office for National Statistics.
But more than 98 per cent of adults in England have Covid antibodies that will help protect them against serious illness.
Lilli Matson, Chief Safety, Health and Environment Officer for TfL, said: ‘Transport is an essential element of London’s recovery from the pandemic.
‘We have seen increasing numbers of customers return to our network as they begin to return to offices and workplaces, as well as to bars, theatres, restaurants and other cultural venues.
‘That return is due in part to the confidence that Londoners have in our ongoing work to ensure that the transport network is clean, reliable and safe.
‘Following the Government’s decision to lift coronavirus restrictions and the falling infection rates in London, we will be removing the condition of carriage that requires customers to wear face coverings from 24 February, but will continue to strongly recommend that customers and staff wear them as they are proven to reduce the risk of transmission and we know they provide confidence to people using public transport.
‘All customers should be assured that the public transport network is as safe as other similar settings, and that independent testing has found no trace of coronavirus on our network since September 2020.’
Covid cases in the UK have been tumbling for three weeks, official data showed yesterday as infections and hospital admissions dropped by another tenth.
Daily data from the Government dashboard shows 41,130 infections were logged – 10.9 per cent lower than last Tuesday. It means cases have been falling week-on-week since February 2.
Covid cases in the UK have been tumbling for three weeks, official data showed yesterday as infections and hospital admissions dropped by another tenth
Boris Johnson hailed a new post-Covid era as he declared that self-isolation laws are being axed from tomorrow and free tests will go from April
MPs slam ministers over ‘mistakes, waste, loss and fraud’ in £370BILLION Covid response warning the country will be paying for decades
An influential committee of MPs has slammed the Government over its financial response to the coronavirus pandemic, warning that billions of pounds of money has been lost because of ‘unacceptable’ mistakes.
The Public Accounts Committee today published a new report which is highly critical of Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the Treasury.
PAC chairwoman, Dame Meg Hillier, said a ‘lack of preparedness and planning’ had led to ‘an unacceptable level of mistakes, waste, loss and openings for fraudsters’.
This will ‘end up robbing current and future taxpayers of billions of pounds’, she said.
It is currently uncertain exactly how much Covid cash will be lost but the PAC said it will be ‘running into many billions of pounds’.
The PAC said fraud and error across the support schemes run by HMRC, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is expected to cost ‘at least £15 billion’.
The furlough scheme is estimated to have lost £5.3billion to fraud and error – 8.7 per cent of the overall funding handed out by the programme.
It is also estimated that some £21billion will be lost as a result of Covid loans not being repaid.
Another 205 Covid deaths within 28 days of a positive test were recorded, marking a week-on-week fall of 12.4 per cent.
And the number of infected people admitted to hospital fell 6.1 per cent in a week.
It comes as the UK Health Security Agency, which runs the dashboard, announced it will no longer update virus infection, death, vaccination and testing data on weekends. Instead, numbers for Saturday and Sunday will all be lumped together in one artificially-higher figure on Monday. Daily figures will not be separated out.
Experts told MailOnline that cutting back on the daily data won’t make ‘much difference’ to interpreting the UK’s Covid situation.
This week, Mr Johnson hailed a new post-Covid era as he declared that self-isolation laws are being axed from tomorrow and free tests will go from April.
In a dramatic statement to MPs, the PM confirmed that people with the virus will no longer be compelled to stay at home in England – though they will be advised to avoid spreading the disease in the same way as with flu.
From March 24 more generous state sick pay provisions are being downgraded, so people will no longer be eligible from day one.
And from April 1 free lateral flow and PCR testing – which has been costing the taxpayer £2billion a month – is being abandoned, except for very limited supplies for the elderly and very vulnerable. Details of who gets them will be decided later by the UK Health Security Agency.
Instead, the Government is set to focus on monitoring the development of the virus, with surveillance programmes to keep watch for emerging variants.
The testing infrastructure will be kept ready so it can be ‘stood up’ quickly if there is a serious threat.
Ministers expect that when people have to buy tests themselves the costs per swab will be in the ‘low single figures’ – around £20 for a pack.
Mr Johnson told the House that the pandemic ‘hasn’t gone away’, sending the Queen his best wishes after her positive diagnosis.
He said it is ‘certain’ new mutant strains will emerge and ‘very possible’ they will be more severe than Omicron.
But he said the country is past the peak of the current wave and must start ‘protecting ourselves without losing our liberties’.
He said the cost of the ‘colossal’ testing infrastructure was ‘vast’, pointing out it had been more than the Home Office budget in 2020-21.
The blueprint emerged after Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak blocked a bid by Health Secretary Sajid Javid for more funding to maintain testing capacity and a slower timetable for ending the arrangements.
The Department for Health is said to have asked for £5billion a year, but No10 made clear that the costs will be footed from within the existing budget.
The plan was welcomed by business and the hospitality industry, but came under fire from education unions and some scientists.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the strategy was ‘half-baked’ and abolishing free tests was like substituting a ‘star defender’ before the football match is won.
Nicola Sturgeon has called for Scotland to be given cash to carry on handing out free kits, saying it would be ‘unacceptable’ for Westminster to force the issue. Although the devolved administrations have policy-making powers, the Treasury has broad control of the purse-strings.