A bus boss has urged passengers to follow the new covid-19 coronavirus face mask rules when travelling on public transport in Brighton and Hove.
Martin Harris called on everyone to wear a face mask or covering – as required by law – unless they were exempt as more bus services resume from today (Monday 15 June).
Mr Harris, the managing director of Brighton and Hove Buses, said: “Exemptions include children under 11, people with certain health conditions and disabled people.
“Passengers with ‘disability concessionary passes’ should use them as normal and passengers with a Helping Hand card may show them to the driver when they board if they wish, although the company stresses that this isn’t a requirement.”
Mr Harris said that there was understandable uncertainty around the new rules, which were still just hours old.
But he strongly encouraged everyone who could wear a face covering to follow the new law.
He said: “We all need to look out for one other. Putting on a face covering before you travel is one of the most important things you can do to protect your fellow passengers and it’s now a legal requirement. If you can, you must.”
Mr Harris said that passengers would need to bring their own face coverings to cover mouth and nose securely but this could be something as simple as a scarf or bandana – and guidance on making your own face covering is on the government website.
He said: “Passengers without a face covering will not be refused travel and fellow passengers need to respect that some people have legitimate reasons for not wearing them and are exempt under the government rules.
“But people who should be wearing them can be fined up to £100 for not wearing a face covering so it’s really important for people to get into the habit of wearing one.
“For now, picking up a face covering before you leave the house needs to become as natural as remembering your keys or your phone.
“I have faith that the vast majority of people will do the right thing and put on a face covering before travelling on public transport unless they are exempt.
“It’s an equally important part of the measures to enable people to travel safely, along with planning ahead to avoid the busiest journeys, high standards of frequent cleaning, capacity limitations on each bus, avoiding cash transactions as far as possible and lots of extra buses out in service.”
Mr Harris said: “The new rules do not require bus drivers to wear face coverings in the cab, though some may do so, since they are fully behind a screen protecting both passengers and drivers.
“But if a driver needs to get out and be close to members of the public, for example, to assist a wheelchair user, they will wear a mask supplied by the company.
Full government guidance is available at gov.uk/coronavirus.