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 has confirmed today.
The advice is clear that people should continue to avoid taking public transport where possible during the Coronavirus pandemic.
But 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 careful easing of restrictions when it’s safe to do so.
More than 3,000 extra staff from British Transport Police, Network Rail and train operating companies awill be deployed from Monday at key transport hubs and interchanges across England – providing advice and friendly assistance to people as they follow social distancing guidance.
They will also support existing staff by helping to manage congestion.
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 major stations, will see coverings provided free of charge to support passengers and help them travel safely.
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.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
“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.
The change from Monday will coincide with the easing of certain lockdown measures, including the reopening of non-essential retail stores.
Last month, the Government set out advice for people on how to make their own face coverings at home, using scarves or other textile items.