Face covering guidance

Face coverings became mandatory on all forms of public transport on 15 June 2020 and in shops on 24 July 2020. The extension of the rules in shops also applies to railway stations including the station concourse, ticket office and platforms. Passengers who do not comply may be refused entry to services or fined either by Transport for London (TfL) enforcement officers or by officers from the British Transport Police.

There are some people who will have a legitimate reason for no wearing a face covering. This includes (though is not limited to):

  • young children under the age of 11 (Public Health England do not recommended face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons)
  • not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
  • if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
  • to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
  • to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
  • to eat or drink if reasonably necessary
  • in order to take medication
  • if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering

There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:

  • if asked to do so in a bank, building society, or post office for identification
  • if asked to do so by shop staff or relevant employees for identification
  • if speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication
If you fall into one or more of the exemption categories TfL have now produced an exemption card that can either be downloaded to your mobile/smart device or printed out. If you do not have access to either of these you can call TfL on their customer services number on 0343 222 1234 and request a card. Other transport operators have separate polices with regards to this area so the best way to check what they are offering is by contacting them directly.