Face Makes Mandatory on Public Transport in the UK
The public transport system is starting to emerge from the lockdown. More passengers are using public transport to get to work, and the passengers’ numbers are expected to hit about 20% in early August.
According to the BBC transport correspondent, Tom Burridge, at 20%, it’s still possible to practice social distancing, but at around 50%, which is the expected capacity in summer, it will not be possible.
New rules on face makes on public transport
In light of this, the government has released new rules within the public transport system that are expected to go into effect on Monday the 20th of July.
The new rules require all persons travelling by bus, coach, train, tram, tube, ferry, or plane to cover their faces while on board. The rules only apply when the passengers are travelling and not while they wait. However, the railway has asked people to wear masks as they enter the station.
Why not also read: 5 Reasons Why Wearing a Face Mask is Important
These rules only apply to England and don’t include Scotland, Wales, or North Ireland. But, the governments there have recommended that people cover their faces while using public transport or where social distancing is difficult.
School transport, taxis, and private hire vehicles are exempt from the directive but taxi-hailing app Uber has made it mandatory for both the driver and passenger to cover their faces while in the taxi.
In anticipation of the new rules, the government will be handing out hundreds of thousands of masks. Homemade masks like scarfs or bandanas are also recommended and safe to use.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said face masks should become part of people’s daily routine, and he urged people against using medical masks, saying they must be reserved for clinical settings.
Enforcement of the new rules
To ensure everyone follows the new rules, the government is deploying over 3,000 more staff, including the police at different stations.
Passengers who don’t cover their faces will be requested to wear a face mask, or they will not be allowed on board. Passengers not covering their faces might also be fined £100.
According to the new directive, only people with certain physical, mental and health conditions are exempt from covering their faces as well as children below 11 years.
How the new rules have been received
Rail unions have welcomed the rule on face masks, but still call for social distancing to be followed and for the transport workers to be treated with respect.
The Head of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA), Manual Cortes said, “It must remain the case that only key workers who are keeping us safe during the pandemic continue to use public transport.”
All NHS hospital staff will also be required to wear face masks in England according to the government, and people should arrive at the hospital with a face make. If not, a face mask will be provided in emergencies.
The British Medical Association said the new rules would “inevitably lead to an increased demand,” which is a concern considering there are shortages of some types of personal protective equipment.
To keep up with the demand that comes with the new rules, the government has reiterated that it has adequate stocks and continues to pursue contracts for additional stock.