New rules on face coverings on Monday

From the Government:

New rules requiring passengers to wear a face covering on their journey will come into force on public transport across England from Monday, so if you use buses or trains (less likely) this impacts you. Not sure what the rules are on being a taxi passenger but maybe use a covering, just in case.

The Government says people should continue to avoid taking public transport where possible, but by mandating the use of face coverings, it is asking passengers to play their part in helping to protect each other as the numbers of people travelling gradually start to rise across the country, following the careful easing of restrictions.

Hundreds of thousands of face coverings will be handed out for passenger use at many locations across the rail network in England from Monday. The one-off initiative, which will run for several days at a number of stations, will see coverings provided free of charge to support passengers and help them travel safely.

Under the changes, operators will be able to stop passengers who refuse to follow the rules from travelling and direct them to leave services.  Exemptions for the use of face coverings will apply to those with certain health conditions, disabled people and children under the age of 11.

The Regulations, which will be made under the Public Health Act 1984 and come into force on Monday, will make face coverings mandatory on buses, coaches, trams, ferries, aircraft and trains. In addition, some operators will amend their conditions of carriage, allowing them to enforce the requirement in a similar way to the rules on having a ticket for travel, meaning they can implement the changes in the way that works best for them.

The change from Monday will coincide with the easing of certain lockdown measures, including the reopening of non-essential retail stores. While social distancing and hand washing remain important disease prevention measures, when necessary to use public transport, people may be more likely to be in enclosed spaces for longer periods of time where there is a greater risk of the spread of the virus and social distancing is likely to be difficult to follow consistently.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has set out that using face coverings as a precautionary measure in this setting can provide some additional protection to fellow passengers and can help people to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus if they have it, but are not showing symptoms.

Face coverings are not the same as face masks. It is important that people do not use medical grade PPE masks to ensure these remain available for frontline staff. Last month, the government set out advice for people on how to make their own face coverings easily at home, using scarves or other textile items.

 

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