Face Masks to be Made Compulsory on Public Transport

Face coverings compulsory from the 15 June in England

If you haven’t already ordered a face mask or face covering like the genius behind East of the M60, now is the time to buy one. Especially so if you make your daily commute on public transport.

In today’s COVID-19 statement from the Houses of Parliament, Transport Minister Grant Shapps stated that all public transport users in England will have to wear a face covering. He also stated that the face covering could also be purchased or made at home. (Some posh folk like this gentleman could go for a custom-made one, manufactured in the UK by Contrado).

Therefore, passengers without a face mask could be turned away from bus stops and staffed railway stations, domestic air terminals and ferry terminals. What hasn’t been mentioned is how this will be enforced at unstaffed halts, light rail system tram stops, or pedestrian ferry terminals, such as the Hulme’s and Latchford ferries across the Manchester Ship Canal.

It is hoped that a team of volunteers would chivvy our commuters into wearing a mask all the way from Penzance to Berwick-upon-Tweed. Maybe Chester to Lowestoft (or Dover Priory to Carlisle Citadel). From the 15 June, passengers without a face mask will be subject to fines under the bus, tram, train or ferry operator’s Conditions of Carriage. Like having to pay an excess fare if you refuse to pay the regular fare on your journey. This will also apply to domestic airlines.

Though English passengers will be the first commuters to wear a mask on all modes of public transport, it is expected that Scotland and Wales would follow suit. With masks being made compulsory on the buses, this wouldn’t be the case in our shopping centres. According to Grant Shapps, you could take your mask off on leaving the bus station and entering the shopping centre.

Too little and too late

The timing of this measure, like the government’s response to the pandemic is too little and too late. Great Britain’s bus operators have been more proactive in the introduction of safety measures including social distancing policies. The likes of FirstGroup, Stagecoach, Go-Ahead et al have recommended wearing face masks aboard their vehicles. Transport for Greater Manchester has made the same recommendations over the last fortnight.

If you wish to make your own face mask, the BBC website has a useful how-to guide. There is a choice of three different designs; either from an old t-shirt, from scratch, or a bandana style face mask.

Last but not least, there should be no shortage of advisory posters on our trains, trams, tubes, buses and boats. If the 81 you catch begins at Stokesley or Redcar instead of Piccadilly Gardens, you might like our attempt at a public service announcement poster. As you may have noticed, this is loosely based on late 1970s National Bus Company publicity design.

As well as showing off your face mask in front of the driver, please remember to buy a small bottle of hand sanitiser. One that is small enough to put in your pocket or handbag. Please apply the sanitiser to your hands after hailing and boarding your bus.

S.V., 04 June 2020.

Image of Cliff Terrace, Marske-by-the-Sea by Peter Robinson, 14 February 2010 (Creative Commons License: Attribution-Share Alike). Coving advert design inspired by late-1970s National Bus Company publicity.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Michael Tinker says:

    well i will be using my car until this is all over best way i would say

    Like

  2. scuzzmonster says:

    Interesting to note Marske is actually pronounced ‘Mask’ locally, not ‘Mar-ske’ as most non-natives seem to say. Also, it that a pair of grundies you have about your face, Stuart? [shocked & appalled emojis]

    Like

  3. Leeds says:

    To be fair I can see why they delayed them as they are seriously difficult to wear, I have to wear them at times at work, sometimes for up to an hour, and they are ridiculously difficult to breathe in, I feel light headed and tired after wearing one for a while so try to avoid situations where I need to use them. Buses where I am currently aren’t very well used, and that’s in an urban part of Leeds. The bus I regularly get only has 4 passengers on at the most, with a connecting journey having only slightly more. Fair enough to make them compulsory on busy routes but I think it still should be optional on journeys that are very lightly used. You’ve also got to think about the driver, they are the ones in reality that’ll have to police it, have to put up with conflict from angry passengers denied access to the bus, have to phone for help should things get out of hand etc. I think a much easier solution would be for the government to scrap all public transport and provide private transport for all essential employees (e.g. support workers for adults with disabilities etc) who can’t work within easy walking distance, e.g. a mile and a half on flat ground, with everyone else (non essential workers, shoppers etc) told to make their own arrangements. Retail companies should have been told to arrange for employees to work more locally to their nearest stores, same too with other types of non essential company that are now allowed to open, e.g. hairdressers. Would work out cheaper than having loads of near empty buses running all over the place.

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