London's Mayor Sadiq Khan reportedly hit back at government criticism over the capital's tube network running packed amid the Covid-19 pandemic. He lashed out saying that the Transport for London (TFL) was operating the maximum of tube services it can while maintaining safety, however, people weren’t following the rules.
Speaking to a local news outlet, Sadiq clarified that London was roughly operating 55% of the tube trains in response to the allegation that London Transport reduced service that led the population to violate social-distancing protocols. Images of London's tube services circulated yesterday depicting crowded trains, despite the virtual lockdown imposed by the government.
A constituent who is not a key worker sent me this photo this morning. He is being forced to work by his employer. This was his tube journey. I've asked Government to consider prosecuting irresponsible employers taking risks with other people's lives and our NHS. pic.twitter.com/cKfXWOZILw— Neil Coyle (@coyleneil) March 23, 2020
By reducing the frequency of the tube, the trains that do run in rush hour are now busier which is having opposite the desired effect. This is extremely dangerous and unacceptable!!! #Covid_19 #COVID_19uk #coronavirus #SocialDistanacing #London @TfL @SadiqKhan pic.twitter.com/b94i9ntht4— Terry McCarthy (@Terry_McCarthy) March 23, 2020
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock had earlier on March 24, said at a press briefing, that the Mayor should elevate the number of tubes in the underground network that would allow the public to adhere to government's COVID-19 containment measure. Sadiq, in response to the comments, told the news outlet that trains were at their maximum, only people weren’t following instructions. He added saying that today, however, the tubes have seen about an 85% dip in the number of passengers.
Hancock told the government's daily at the COVID-19 press briefing that TFL should have the tube running in full so that people travelling on the tube spaced out further apart, obeying the two-meter rule as best possible. There was no reason convincing enough, for the information he had seen, that the current levels of tube provision should have been so low, health secretary regretted. There should have more tube trains running, he was quoted saying.
Khan denounced the "blame game played" by Hancock, speaking with the local news, saying that "heroic" work was carried out by TFL members, citing the enormous work pressure due to staff shrinkage. He said that TFL's imagery was being tainted due to such allegations. About a third of TFL staff were off work due to the pandemic, he said, while maximum members were self-isolating. He further added saying that TFL was running the maximum service they could with meager staff at this moment.