After weeks of dithering on the issue of masks, TfL has now issued a bulletin stating "there will be a face covering available to all front line colleagues, cleaners and bus drivers who are attending work and would like to wear one."
We can help but note the disparity between this and their previous position, communicated in a letter to RMT on 7 April, that LU didn't think masks were necessary and wouldn't be providing them. They quoted a Public Health England statement which said, "there is very little evidence of widespread benefit from the use of face masks outside of clinical and care settings."
So what's changed? Well, quite simply, with Boris Johnson's reckless and ham-fisted easing of the lockdown, TfL are expecting passenger numbers to rise, so they're now providing masks as a too-little, too-late mitigation for a situation where they can no longer guarantee workers will be able to maintain 2m distancing from passengers.
Not that TfL care about that anyway: as we reported previously, TfL want the 2m guidance to be reduced, so they can carry more passengers!. There are also question marks over whether the masks being issued actually meet the specifications for the type of masks that are effective against airborne viruses.
Our attitude must be: safety first. Some metro systems have made the wearing of masks compulsory for passengers. We support those measures, and we support effective masks being issued to staff. What we don't support is possibly ineffective masks being used to create a false impression of safety.
If you can't work safely - which includes maintaining safe distancing - don't work, mask or no mask.