New rules requiring passengers to wear a face covering on their journey will come into force on public transport across England from Monday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed on Friday.
The advice given by Government is clear that people should continue to avoid taking public transport where possible. However, by mandating the use of face coverings, the Government 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 easing of restrictions.
Under the changes, operators will be able to stop passengers who refuse to follow the rules from travelling and direct them to leave services. The police and Transport for London authorised personnel will also be able to issue fixed penalty notices of £100, or £50 if paid in 14 days. Exemptions for the use of face coverings will apply to those with certain health conditions, disabled people and children under the age of 11.
Over 3,000 extra staff from British Transport Police, Network Rail, Train Operating Companies and Transport for London will be deployed from Monday at key transport hubs and interchanges across England. Those extra staff will aim to provide dedicated reassurance, advice and assistance to people as they follow social distancing guidance. They will also support existing staff by helping to manage congestion.
Alongside this, 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.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
“We’ve seen how the COVID-19 pandemic has unlocked a community spirit right across our nation, and we now need to extend this to our transport network so we can help keep one another safe.
“If you do need to travel, in the same way that you would pick up your phone, wallet or keys when you leave the house, please remember to bring a face covering.
“Our fantastic transport staff will be on hand to provide help and advice, and free coverings will be given out at key train stations to help kick-start this initiative. This is another small, sensible step we can all take to help us defeat this virus.”
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.