Posted 5th June 2020 | 1 Comment

Facemasks to be compulsory on English trains

First published 4 June. Updated 5 June, 10.20

THE transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced that a face covering will be compulsory on all public transport in England from 15 June.

He has also said that passengers on trains, trams, buses, aircraft and ferries who ignore the new rule will be fined.

The RMT is concerned about the safety of frontline railway staff who will have to enforce the order.

Labour shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: ‘This is just another example of the Government being slow to act. Two months ago, Labour immediately backed the Mayor of London’s call for face coverings on public transport to be compulsory. Yet only now Tory Ministers are acting.

‘Two months after first raising this with Government we are still yet to hear whether drivers will be issued with gloves, masks, and other PPE items as standard, what specification this PPE should be and, if there isn’t sufficient PPE, whether buses should still run.

‘We can’t go on like this. We need a comprehensive transport plan to get our public transport moving, to protect staff and to protect passengers.’

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: ‘We have been working closely with the government to ensure that agreed increases in services on Britain’s train and Tube network are done in a safe and controlled manner – to 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.’

RMT general secretary Mick Cash is not reassured. ‘There is a real danger that the Government and the Rail Delivery Group are sending out a signal that as long as you cover your face you are safe to ‎head back onto the tubes and trains regardless of whether you are an essential worker making an essential journey. That risks a surge in passengers as we saw last weekend with the principles of social distancing blown apart with huge risks to staff and passengers alike,’ he said.

He continued: ‘It's also clear that the Government and industry bosses are expecting our members to police this policy. That will put over-stretched rail workers right in the front line once again and will leave them at risk of being abused, assaulted and spat at by aggressive passengers refusing to comply. This policy must be properly risk assessed with staff fully protected.’

Reader Comments:

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  • Melvyn Windebank, Canvey Island, Essex

    If they make it compulsory then they will have to issue masks for free on entering stations just like in other countries!

    Wearing badly fitted masks is worse than no mask as if you sneeze it will just be ejected out of the sides spreading to people next to you !

    It says disabled will be excluded but how do people with invisible disabilities like epilepsy prove they have a disability?

    And while few in number how are passengers doing long distance journeys expected to go without food or water for up to 5 hours on London to Scotland journeys?

    And in reality the worst is over and this should have been done back in March not now normally is resuming !