‘A face covering helps protect our fellow passengers. It is something that we can each do to help each other’

 
Shapps: ‘Keeping two-metres apart is not always possible’

 
Face coverings will become compulsory on public transport in England from Monday, June 15, transport secretary Grant Shapps announced today.

“That doesn’t mean surgical masks, which we must keep for clinical settings. It means the kind of face covering you can easily make at home,” Shapps told today’s Downing Street briefing.

“There’ll be exceptions to the rule for very young children, disabled people and those with breathing difficulties.

“But broadly, as we come through this phase, we’re doing what many other countries have asked transport users to do.”

As passenger numbers increase, and the government expects this trend to continue, Shapps wants to ensure that every precaution is taken, on buses, trains, aircraft and ferries.

With more people using transport, the evidence suggests that wearing a face covering offers some – albeit limited – protection against the spread of the virus

“With more people using transport, the evidence suggests that wearing a face covering offers some – albeit limited – protection against the spread of the virus,” he said.

“A face covering helps protect our fellow passengers. It is something that we can each do to help each other.

“And whilst it also remains true that measures like maintaining social distance and washing your hands remain most critical, we also know that, on public transport, keeping two-metres apart is not always possible, all of the time. Indeed, the guidance explicitly recognises this fact.”

The Department for Transport is making rules changes under the National Rail Conditions of Travel and the Public Service Vehicle Regulations for buses. This will mean that passengers can be refused travel if they don’t comply and could be fined. Alongside transport operators, this will be enforced by the British Transport Police.

“I expect the vast majority of people won’t need to be forced into this, because wearing a face-covering helps to protect others, and most people simply want to help defeat this disease,” said Shapps.

Frontline staff will also need to wear face coverings.

Shapps added: “In the coming days, the government will work with unions, who have been supportive for which I am grateful, transport operators and police to ensure they have the supplies they need to be safe and provide reassurance to the public.”

A survey of 2,000 people on May 22-24 by Transport Focus, the independent transport watchdog, found that 62% think that wearing a face mask should be a requirement while using public transport.

People thinking of returning to public transport have told us they want face coverings to be used by all passengers

“People thinking of returning to public transport have told us they want face coverings to be used by all passengers,” said Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith. “The government’s decision will provide welcome clarity and will boost pressure on others to cover up.

“Passengers will now need clear information on where best to find a face covering, if they will be handed out at stations and if they will be turned away if they aren’t wearing one.”

Responding on behalf of the bus and coach industry, Graham Vidler, chief executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport, said: “Buses are already safe to use as operators have introduced enhanced cleaning regimes alongside other measures including restricting capacity, but making face coverings mandatory will give more passengers the confidence to travel.

“We will need passengers to work with us and wear their own face covering to comply with this new requirement.

“We will also work with the government on its implementation, including increasing capacity in the network and maximising the value of the bus in safely restarting our economy and daily life.

 
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