A major bus operator has informed its staff that “it is not our job” to police the rule that from Monday 15 June will require public transport users in England to wear a face covering.
The instruction was communicated on 11 June via an internal document. It details that notices will be placed on vehicles to inform passengers of the operator’s position, although advice will be given to customers that they should comply with the requirement.
Mandatory use of face coverings by public transport users in England was announced by Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps on 4 June. It coincides with the date that non-essential shops may reopen.
Mr Shapps said that operators would be among the parties to enforce the requirement. More detailed government guidance is due imminently, but Transport for Greater Manchester has already stated that the exemption will capture children under the age of 11 and students that travel on dedicated home-to-school services.
The same large operator has advised its drivers that they must wear a face covering when getting on and off buses, but that they should not do so when driving. “This is considered to be a potential distraction,” it says.
Meanwhile, there is no indication of how those passengers that will be exempt from the face covering rule will be handled. The dispensation applies to very young children, disabled people and those with breathing difficulties.
A card that can be shown to drivers by exempt passengers to indicate that they have a valid reason not to comply has been mooted. The suggestion was made to the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee by Confederation of Passenger Transport Scotland Director Paul White on 10 June when discussing the potential for the face covering requirement to spread to Scotland.
A survey by Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation has found that 55% of people with asthma or lung conditions would suffer from breathing difficulties if face coverings were mandatory for all.