Andy Street, the mayor of the West Midlands, has urged people to continue to wear face coverings on public transport from Monday 19 July.
This comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that the final stages of lockdown will come to an end that day, and concurs with his “expectation and recommendation” that people continue to wear masks in crowded and enclosed spaces.
Mr Street called on passengers to “join in this collective effort”, and said that Transport for West Midlands staff would be handing out face masks after 19 July.
He said: “I still hope that citizens will wear masks in crowded spaces, whether they be indoor spaces, or on our public transport.
“I think what Boris Johnson said gives more strength to that. So our guidance will be, continue to wear your masks on our public transport.”
His comments echoed those of other mayors and political leaders across England, who have also called for masks to remain on public transport in their regions.
The West Midlands Combined Authority, which is chaired by the mayor, runs the local metro service, and could potentially make masks compulsory there. It also works closely with bus and rail operators, although it cannot give them instructions.
I still hope that citizens will wear masks in crowded spaces, whether they be indoor spaces, or on our public transport.
– Andy Street
After being asked why he had decided not to make masks compulsory on the metro, he said: “It is very difficult when the national policy is different. You get into a position where national guidance is one thing and local policy is another.
“I think we can all now align together. From a citizen’s point of view, this is so important. You have to have one clear message.
“The Prime Minister said he hoped that people would still act with caution, he hoped that masks would still be used on public transport, and that will be our message.”
A spokesperson for National Express West Midlands, which runs buses in Birmingham and the Black Country, said: “Following changes to government rules, from Monday 19 July 2021, National Express West Midlands customers can choose whether they wear a face covering on public transport. It is important that we respect everyone’s right to choose whether to wear a face covering.
“At National Express West Midlands, we are doing everything we can to ensure people can travel with confidence. Buses are very well ventilated, and we will still be operating our enhanced cleaning regimes. We also have an online tool that customers can use to see how busy their bus is, to help them plan their journey in advance.”