More than 3,000 people were stopped from getting on London buses over the weekend until they put on a face covering.
Face coverings on public transport were made mandatory last month in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus, and flouters face £100 fines.
But police and transport officers have stepped up enforcement in the last week after a number of passengers were still breaking the rules.
Several commuters told Metro.co.uk they have regularly seen people on public transport in London – particularly on buses – without face coverings.
Photographer David Nathan has been using buses regularly since the policy was brought in on June 15.
Visit our live blog for the latest updates: Coronavirus news live
‘Around Brent, the majority of people over 50 seem to wear masks – especially the women,’ he said, ‘But between the late teens and upwards, including middle-aged people, you still see a significant number who do not.
‘Teenagers in groups in the main do not. In Central London though, I found it to be lower across the board. On the trains I found there to be significantly more people wearing masks.
‘What has also struck me is the number of people who have masks on, but seem only to cover their chin, or cover their mouths but not their noses.’
Police and transport officers were officially given powers last week to impose rules more strictly after ‘gentle’ implementation was not effective enough.
Office for National Statistics figures last week showed 86% of people were following the rule – but Transport for London (TfL) says this has increased to 90% since the stricter enforcement started.
Bosses have also reminded bus and rail users that a number of passengers have medical conditions, which may not always be obvious, leaving them exempt from wearing a covering.
Siwan Hayward, director of compliance, policing and on-street services at TfL, said: ‘Everyone should be wearing a face covering on public transport unless they are exempt and we are pleased that 90% of customers during the morning peak are complying with the requirement.
‘Customers should bear in mind that a number of passengers will have a legitimate exemption that may not be obvious.
‘The police and TfL’s enforcement officers are deployed to priority locations across the bus and Tube network to encourage compliance, refusing entry to the network and asking people to leave if they are not wearing a face covering.
‘Officers have the powers to issue fines with the possibility of prosecution if people don’t wear face coverings and they will use them, if necessary.
‘This is expected to be a last resort as our enforcement officers deploy other tactics to drive up compliance first and as Londoners will want to do the right thing and keep themselves and others safe.’
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warned last week he had signed an order to ‘increase enforcement’ by police and TfL officers.
He said on Thursday: ‘We did say in the early days that we would ensure compliance was gently enforced but I do want to inform the House that TfL, Network Rail, British Transport Police will be tightening up on that implementation.
‘A number of our passengers will have a legitimate exemption. The police and TfL’s enforcement officers are deployed to priority locations across the bus and tube network to explain the requirement and encourage compliance.
‘They will now take enforcement action when required, including refusing entry, asking people to leave the network and bringing fines or prosecutions if necessary.’
Signs, and tannoy announcements in Tube stations, repeatedly warn commuters to wear coverings the whole time they are on public transport.
It is thought fines are still relatively rare, but rule-breakers can be handed £100 penalties.
And police were pictured collaring passengers not wearing appropriate coverings in Underground stations earlier this week.
Officers were seen stopping a number of passengers at London Bridge station, as well as inside travelling Tube carriages. Some travellers appearing not to have a covering on their faces had a mask on them, which they produced after being challenged.
Mr Nathan added he thinks the face coverings rule should also be made mandatory in supermarkets and other non-essential shops.
‘I think if shops start following the line, masks have to be worn, that this may increase people using them still further,’ he said, ‘Especially as people still use buses more than the trains I feel – particularly for short journeys.’
London mayor Sadiq Khan called on the Government last month to make face coverings mandatory in all shops and public confined spaces.
He tweeted: ‘With lockdown easing, it is our responsibility is to do all we can to prevent a second wave of Covid-19. There’s no room for complacency when lives are at risk.
‘That’s why I’m calling on the Government to make face coverings mandatory in all shops and confined public spaces.
‘Ignoring the WHO guidance and the example set by other European cities on face coverings risks making us an international outlier.
‘As our high streets reopen, we have a clear opportunity to implement this rule to prevent and control the spread of Covid-19. The Government must act now.’
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].
For more stories like this, check our news page.