A video appeared on the revered artist’s Instagram account that shows a person, assumed to be him, dressed in the same uniform as the cleaners who have been drafted in to disinfect the underground during the COVID-19 crisis.
The individual ushers away passengers as he spray-paints rats in various guises relating to the pandemic on the walls of the carriages using a stencil.
The work is called “If you don’t mask – you don’t get” — wearing a face covering is obligatory on transport in London.
Transport for London (TfL), which runs the Tube, later said the artwork was removed “due to our strict anti-graffiti policy”, but it welcomed Banksy recreating his message “in a suitable location”.
“We appreciate the sentiment of encouraging people to wear face coverings, which the vast majority of customers on our transport network are doing,” said a spokesperson for TfL.
The rats used in the new artwork are similar to those featured in a painting that Bansky shared in April when lockdown measures were in full force in the UK with the caption: “My wife hates it when I work from home.”
In his previous works, the artist has painted rats and monkeys on the Underground’s train carriages.
Banksy left his signature in the train with a message for Londoners: “I get locked down, but I get up again,” which references Chumbawamba’s hit song Tubthumping from 1997.