Sadiq Khan’s Mask Mandate on London Transport is Not Based on Science

We’re publishing a guest post today by Rob Tyson, one of the organisers of Smile Free, a group that campaigns against mask mandates in the U.K. Rob points out that Sadiq Khan’s mask mandate on Transport for London doesn’t appear to be based on a single scientific study.

Britain’s well-established, pre-Covid pandemic plan, endorsed by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty as late as March 19th 2020 before being abandoned four days later, contains an interesting sentence relating to the wearing of face masks in the community (an intervention the plan did not recommend):

Although there is a perception that the wearing of facemasks by the public in the community and household setting may be beneficial, there is in fact very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use in this setting. Facemasks must be worn correctly, changed frequently, removed properly, disposed of safely and used in combination with good respiratory, hand, and home hygiene behaviour in order for them to achieve the intended benefit. Research also shows that compliance with these recommended behaviours when wearing facemasks for prolonged periods reduces over time.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that no nation on earth can demonstrate ‘widespread benefit’ of forced masking on infection control after a year of mandates, no-one in authority wants to disabuse the public of this perception.

Rather, they want to continue and even intensify this irrational behaviour.

Indeed it is striking how Sadiq Khan and Transport for London (TfL) – which runs the London tube, trains and bus network – justify their forced masking requirement.

“Following the science” this ain’t.

Numerous supporters of Smile Free, our campaign group advocating for the repeal of all U.K. mask mandates, have shared with us the responses they’ve had from TfL in response to their complaints about compulsory masking.

It’s a stock response references five pieces of opinion polling – but not one scientific study.

“YouGov produced the results that over two thirds of people support the retention of face coverings on public transport at this point in the pandemic,” TfL explains.

The majority believe that face coverings play an important role in giving people confidence to use public transport. 86% of customers say they are always wearing face coverings on our public transport services… More than most of the people want to wear them and feel safer doing so. Of the 14% not wearing a face covering at all times or not at all, almost three-quarters (75%) have an exemption or good reason under the regulations for not doing so. [“More than most”? What does that mean?]

TfL appears to think that quoting all this opinion polling makes a cast-iron case for forced masking. But to the critical reader it simply highlights the lack of evidence.

Could it be that TfL doesn’t quote cite a single study supporting forced masking because – like the Department for Transport – it hasn’t actually commissioned one?

As thin a justification as it is, later on in its stock response TfL even undermines its own case for masking.

“That said, the requirement to wear a mask is not to say that public transport is no less safe (sic) than any other similar setting,” it says. [It means “less safe” obviously – the double negative reverses the meaning of the sentence.]

“Independent testing by Imperial College has been carried out regularly since September, taking swabs of touch points and air samples in trains, stations and buses, and has found no traces of coronavirus on the public transport system.”

In which case, why continue to force masks on commuters? Particularly as TfL’s own advertising all over the network now also claims: “Air on our tubes and trains is refreshed every three minutes”?

Khan and TfL’s forced masking is everything wrong with the authorities’ Covid response in microcosm.

You can learn more about Smile Free, the campaign advocating for the repeal of U.K. mask mandates, here.

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