Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said he would be “very relaxed” if any bus and train operators in England continue to require passengers to wear face coverings from July 19.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that the legal requirement to wear face coverings in settings such as public transport will be dropped once the final stage of his road map out of lockdown is reached.
Mr Shapps told MPs that individual operators could amend their conditions of carriage to require passengers to continue to cover their mouths and noses.
He said: “If you’re travelling on the (London) Underground and it’s pretty packed, and the wearing of a face covering may well be helpful to increase confidence.
“Standing right next to somebody, I think that’s something that I want to do. Transport operators are free to require it.
On a crowded Underground train, it may feel right to be wearing a face covering for the next periodGrant Shapps
“We’ve seen airlines do that and we may see some transport services do that.
“If organisations require it to be a condition of carriage, I’m very relaxed about that, and it’s up to them to do.”
Asked specifically about whether he would support the measure being implemented by London Mayor Sadiq Khan on the Tube, he replied he would be “very relaxed” about that.
He continued: “Clearly on a crowded Underground train, it may feel right to be wearing a face covering for the next period.”
Mr Shapps said he has not had “any conversation personally” with a train or bus operator wanting to continue to make face coverings mandatory.
On Monday, Mr Khan said discussions are planned between Transport for London, the Department for Transport and other transport providers “before we decide our next steps” on face coverings.
British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair have all confirmed they will continue to require passengers to wear masks.