Transport campaigners condemn facemasks plan

PLANS to let rail and bus operators choose whether to enforce the wearing of facemasks from next Monday have left transport campaigners ‘disappointed’.

The Prime Minister said last night that ‘We expect and recommend that people wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with those you don’t normally meet, such as on public transport.’

The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said he has delayed making a decision about facemasks on Manchester trams, because he wanted to avoid adding to the confusion, while it is also unclear whether the operators would have any enforcement powers after the rules change.

The chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport Paul Tuohy said: ‘We are disappointed that public transport was singled out and made an example of by the Prime Minster in his speech yesterday. The Government should have shown leadership, rather than hiding behind the operators, and the lack of consistency will cause problems for operators and passengers alike.

‘The Government must now reassure people that public transport is safe to use and promote its use as we move onto the next stage of the roadmap. We simply cannot afford the long-term health and environmental consequences of increased car use.’

Meanwhile, the Rail Delivery Group said: ‘Rail companies will ask people to follow the government guidance and, out of respect for others, wear face coverings if an indoor setting is busy. Train travel is low risk, with the majority of carriages well ventilated by air conditioning systems or by doors and windows. As restrictions lift, we will continue carrying out extra cleaning and providing better information about how busy services are, so that our passengers can travel with confidence.’