Yesterday, England’s transport secretary, Grant Shapps, announced that from June 15, wearing a face covering would become compulsory while riding public transport in England. The measure, addressing the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, would apply to people using public trains, buses, aircraft, and other modes.
The measures will apply to travel on buses, including the pictured London Buses (Image: Jon Bennett)
Shapps announced the measure at the UK Government’s daily coronavirus briefing. He said it would be “a condition of travel” and “surgical masks we must keep for clinical settings” so the general public should use “the kind of face covering you can easily make at home.”
Those who violate the guidelines could be subject to a fine under National Rail Conditions of Travel and the Public Service Vehicle Regulations for Buses, as well as being denied from traveling.
The measure would except very young children, disabled people, and those with breathing difficulties.
Train drivers’ trade union Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan commented, “We have been working closely with the government to ensure that agreed increases in services on Britain’s train, and Tube, network is done in a safe and controlled manner – to help spread [the travellers], and maintain social distancing – for the safety of passengers and staff. The instruction to wear face coverings to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus will ease the concerns of people travelling, and working, on the transport network.”
The general secretary of the RMT union (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers), Mick Cash, said the measure was “nowhere near enough.”
The June 15 planned date of the introduction of the measures is the current expected date for the reopening of non-essential retail stores.
England would be the only country in the United Kingdom to have these measures put in place. Wales have made no recommendation regarding face covering. Northern Ireland has suggested people “think about” it in situations where they cannot apply social-distancing.
Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said a compulsory introduction of face coverings could be “inevitable” and that she was considering it.