Commuters told to 'wear face coverings, use contactless and avoid rush hour'

12 May 2020, 12:03

People using public transport are advised to wear face coverings
People using public transport are advised to wear face coverings. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Commuters using public transport should keep two metres apart from others "wherever possible", wear a face covering, use contactless payment and avoid rush-hour, according to guidance published by the Department for Transport.

The new government guidance also "sets out the steps operators should take to provide safe workplaces and services for their staff and passengers across all modes of private and public transport"

It follows the announcement that the public should still work from home where possible, however, those who cannot work from home will be returning to work on Wednesday.

Those who will be returning to work have also been told to avoid public transport wherever possible by "walking, cycling or driving to work". People are also being told to avoid rush hour and employers should be prepared to change work times to make this possible.

All transport operators have been told to ensure that stations and services are regularly cleaned and routes must be kept clear to avoid crowding.

They are also responsible for making clear to passengers how to stay 2 metres apart where possible in stations, airports and ports.

People are also advised to wear face masks when travelling.

Travel advice has been given to England
Travel advice has been given to England. Picture: PA

As the Transport Secretary stated on Saturday, even as public transport begins to revert to a full service, the 2-metre social distancing rule would only leave effective capacity for one in ten passengers on many parts of the network.

To help reduce pressure on the transport network so there is space for social distancing where possible, the Transport Secretary has spoken to train and bus operators and local authorities to ensure they increase the number of available services over the coming weeks, it has been confirmed. 

Ben Kentish quizzes Transport Secretary Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps said: "Transport operators and staff have been working hard to ensure that people who need to get to work are able to do so, including crucial NHS workers and all those on the front line of the fight against the virus.

"Alongside the cycling and walking revolution we are launching, and clear guidance to passengers and operators published today, we can all play our part by following the advice and reducing pressure on public transport.

"If we take these steps, all those who need to use public transport should feel confident that they can do so safely, with the space to maintain social distancing as far as possible."

Boris Johnson: The easing of the lockdown is conditional

On Tuesday, Transport for London said there is a need to reduce pre-Covid demand on buses and Tubes by over 85 per cent.

Other guidelines set out by TfL include...

- Continuing to work from home wherever possible

- Those who need to travel should try to walk or cycle and avoid public transport wherever possible

- "Shop local" where possible to relieve pressure on public transport

- Employers are urged to do everything they can to help staff avoid the busiest travel times

- Face coverings should be worn on public transport

- Rigorous cleaning regimes, hand sanitiser and operational changes at stations

- Social distancing to be maintained on all forms of transport

Transport for London also reminded passengers that travel will operate in a "very different way" than it did before the pandemic.

Transport for London has also issued guidance
Transport for London has also issued guidance. Picture: PA

It follows the Transport Secretary announcing a £2 billion package of cycling and walking investment on Saturday that will deliver a green revolution in travel, easing the pressure on public transport services by helping more people than ever choose alternative forms of travel.

This included £250million for local authorities in England to create pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors.

The Government’s strategy and advice recognises that there will be times and some settings on public transport where social distancing is not possible.

The new guidance outlines how people should try to minimise the duration of this, and take all necessary steps to observe these measures where possible.

Current government guidance for those using public transport recommends:

- Keeping 2 metres apart from others wherever possible

- Wearing a face covering if you can

- Using contactless payment where possible

- Avoiding rush hour travel where feasible

- Washing or sanitising your hands as soon as possible before and after travel

- Following advice from staff and being considerate to others