People wearing protective masks board a bus near Leicester Square, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in London, Britain June 15, 2020. REUTERS/John Sibley

Masks will remain mandatory on London’s public transport network after July 19, the city’s mayor said on Wednesday, as prime minister Boris Johnson’s government plans to lift most Covid-19 restrictions from the so-called ‘freedom day’.

The public will be expected, rather than compelled by law, to wear masks in indoor enclosed spaces across the country from next week, as rules decided upon by the Conservative administration are eased in England despite rising cases.

But in the capital, operator Transport for London (TfL), which is chaired by Mayor Sadiq Khan from the Labour Party, will continue to require face coverings on buses, trains and other parts of the transit system to keep down infections.

Whilst the government cites Britain’s vaccination drive as having largely broken the link between cases and serious illness or death, some scientists and public health officials are urging greater caution amid fears daily infections could reach 100,000.

“I’m not prepared to stand by and put Londoners, and our city’s recovery, at risk,” Khan said in a statement.

“This is why, after careful consideration, I have decided to ask TfL to retain the requirement for passengers to wear a face covering on all TfL services when the national regulations change.”

Ridership on Underground trains stands at roughly 40-45 per cent of pre-pandemic levels whilst on buses the figure is at around 60-65 per cent.

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