Face coverings will no longer be required on Transport of London (TfL) services – including the Underground – from tomorrow.
They had been a “condition of carriage” but now they will only be “strongly recommended” for customers and staff, according to TfL.
TfL said it “considered a variety of factors” including “the shift in the government’s approach towards living with the virus” and decreasing infection rates in London.
It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the end of all legal COVID-19 restrictions in England from Thursday.
TfL said the enhanced cleaning regime that was introduced due to COVID-19 will remain in place.
Trains, trams, buses and stations are cleaned with hospital-grade cleaning substances that kill viruses and bacteria on contact.
Independent testing by Imperial College London has found no traces of coronavirus on the public transport network since it began in September 2020, TfL said.
Tests were carried out monthly, with swabs of touch points taken in stations and buses, as well as air samples in ticket halls.
Although the legal requirement to wear masks on public transport was lifted by the prime minister last month, Mayor Sadiq Khan chose to keep face coverings on London’s transport services.
After Boris Johnson announced the rules changes in England on Monday, Mr Khan said he expected face coverings to be dropped.
He said: “We know that face coverings remain a simple, effective measure that give Londoners confidence to travel … I urge passengers to be considerate of their fellow Londoners and continue to wear a face covering where appropriate unless exempt.”
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TfL said usage of the Tube on weekdays has recovered to about 60 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, while weekday bus ridership is back to about 75% of what it was before COVID-19.
The figure is 75% for weekend Tube and bus ridership, reaching close to 75-80% at certain times of the day.