All passengers on coaches and buses in England will be required to wear a face covering from Monday 15 June.
The development was announced by Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps when he led the government’s daily press briefing on coronavirus COVID-19. Mr Shapps says the change will be made due to an expected increase in passenger numbers when movement restrictions are eased further.
He adds that face coverings that can be made at home are suitable. Exceptions will apply to very young children, disabled people and those with breathing difficulties.
An amendment will shortly be made to the Public Service Vehicle Regulations to reflect the requirement. The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has confirmed that it will apply to coach passengers in England, as well as those using buses.
Mandatory use of a face covering will be enforced by operators. Travel can be refused in the case of non-compliance. Mr Shapps additionally reinforced the note in previously issued guidance that it may not always be possible to observe social distancing guidelines when vehicles are busy.
CPT has responded positively to the announcement. CEO Graham Vidler says mandatory use of a face covering will give more passengers the confidence to travel on buses. CPT will work with the government on how the requirement is implemented, including how capacity is increased and how buses’ value is maximised in safely restarting the economy and daily life.
Drivers will also “need” to wear face coverings, says Mr Shapps. It has been reported that a requirement for passengers to use face coverings on public transport in Scotland is being considered.