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Stagecoach outlines new face covering rules for Sidmouth passengers

By The Editor

5th Jun 2020 | Local News

A Stagecoach double-decker. Image courtesy Jaggery.
A Stagecoach double-decker. Image courtesy Jaggery.

Stagecoach South West, the main bus operator in Sidmouth, says it will support the Government's new rules on wearing face coverings while using public transport.

The Government has said it will work with operators to make it mandatory for passengers to wear face coverings when using public transport in England from June 15, the Transport Secretary announced yesterday (Thursday, 4 June).

A Stagecoach South West Spokesperson said: "We support the government advice to practice social distancing, and regularly wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, or use a hand sanitiser gel if soap and water isn't available to protect yourself and your fellow passengers. We've issued detailed and regular reminders to our own teams about hygiene good practice and the importance of hand washing.

"The Government has announced that wearing a face covering will be mandatory in England when using public transport from 15 June.

"We already have well-established and rigorous cleaning regimes for our buses, coaches and trams, and we're continuing to carrying out additional cleaning of key touchpoints, encouraging people to follow the social distancing guidelines and asking passengers to use contactless where possible. We also have protective screens on our buses which provide a physical barrier to help prevent transmission

"We encourage you, if you can, to use contactless as a method of payment to pay for your journey. It keeps us all a little safer as it reduces the need for contact."

The Government would like people to, wherever possible, continue to avoid public transport and walk, cycle or drive, but for some people this may not be an option. Transport usage has been slowly increasing, since lock down restriction began to ease.

When it is 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.

This differs from enclosed spaces like shops, for example, where people can more easily go outside if social distancing is not possible and where shop owners can place limits on the number of customers allowed inside at any one time.

Using face coverings can provide some small additional protection to fellow passengers and can help people to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus if they are suffering from coronavirus, but not showing symptoms.

Speaking at the Downing Street coronavirus briefing, Grant Shapps confirmed the Government is asking operators to introduce face coverings as a requirement for travel from June 15.

The changes will be made under legislation such as the National Rail Conditions of Travel and Public Service Vehicle Regulations for buses. While the Government expects the vast majority of people to comply with the changes, operators will be able to refuse travel or issue penalty fines for those who fail to wear a face covering, in a similar way to the rules on having a ticket for travel.

The British Transport Police will also support the implementation of these changes.

Social distancing and hand washing remain by far the most important disease prevention measures but it is also vital all passengers travelling on buses, coaches, trains, trams, ferries and aircraft should wear a face covering and the Government says it will also work with operators to ensure staff are provided with, and wearing face coverings, where appropriate for their role.

People should wash their hands or use hand sanitiser before putting their face covering on and after taking it off and it is important that people don't touch their face covering when wearing it, where possible, to avoid hand to mask transmission of the virus.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "People should continue to avoid public transport wherever possible. But, as restrictions are carefully eased when it is safe to do so, it's likely that we will see more people needing to use public transport.

"So, while respecting social distancing and maintaining good hand hygiene remain the most important steps we can all take to stay safe, wearing a face covering can play a role in helping us to protect each other.

"This is about the small changes we can take to help control the virus, which is why I urge everyone using transport to wear a face covering - to help keep us all safer."

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, Government set out advice for people on how to make their own face coverings easily at home, using scarves or other textile items.

These face coverings should cover the mouth and nose while allowing the wearer to breathe comfortably and can be as simple as a scarf or bandanna that ties behind the head to give a snug fit.

Paul Plummer, Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said: "Wearing face coverings on trains will help to ensure that those who need to travel by rail can do so with confidence. Greater use of face coverings will boost the other measures we are putting in place to keep people safe, like more thorough cleaning, improved information on potential crowding and one-way systems at busier stations."

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