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.