Londoners may soon be advised to wear high-filtration face masks on public transport.
As the more infectious ‘Kent strain’ spreads throughout the UK, both Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London have started looking into ways to limit transmissions on public transport. The new variant is so contagious that cloth face masks, scarves and bandanas may no longer be effective at keeping the virus at bay. Medical-grade face masks are therefore being discussed as an alternative for passengers.
According to the Evening Standard, officials have asked for guidance from Public Health England regarding the scientific concerns over the new variant. Similarly, Khan is commissioning a bespoke analysis of the situation by London’s scientific advisory group. This will ascertain whether the public should be asked to wear high-filtration masks on tubes and buses instead of cloth masks.
A number of countries including Germany, France and Austria have already asked passengers to switch to medical-grade masks. While they are disposable, more pricey and slightly more difficult to breathe through, they prevent over 90% of airborne particles from passing through. This would significantly reduce the likelihood of passengers spreading or catching the virus on public transport.
A spokesman for the Mayor said “The Mayor is determined that Londoners are given the most accurate and up-to-date scientific advice in our fight against the virus. Germany, France and Austria have all recently introduced stricter requirements for face coverings, and it may be necessary to introduce tougher measures here to stop the spread of the new variant, particularly in poor ventilated locations.”
TfL staff have already been supplied with four-layer surgical masks, so any update on mask advice will only apply to passengers.