Face coverings become mandatory on public transport

Transport secretary warns people to 'leave space on public transport for those who need it most'.

The transport secretary has issued a plea for people to limit their travel as face coverings become mandatory on public transport.

As Scotland moves to phase two of its route map out of lockdown, Michael Matheson warned people to “leave space on public transport for those who need it most” as passengers experience some “major changes”.

He also urged employers to carefully manage their phased returning of staff to work with figures suggesting up to 55% of employees could travel to their normal workplace in this phase.

When Scotland was in full lockdown, the figure was just 30%.

It could also result in an increase in the number of passengers on public transport by around by a third from the current levels of around 225,000 per day.

Mr Matheson said: “First of all I want to pay tribute to those transport operators and workers who have kept Scotland’s key workers moving in recent months, during an incredibly testing time.

“We are now in a position to enter phase two of the route map, however we must do so with great caution, as we cannot risk a resurgence of the virus and wasting all of the good work to date in terms of respecting boundaries and working from home.

“Transport has a vital role to play in helping restart the economy, but there is a clear and great need for personal and collective responsibility when travelling, especially by public transport.

“It’s also very important to leave space on public transport for those who need it most.

“Passengers who must travel will notice some major changes at our bus and train stations and transport hubs.

“More hand sanitisers, physical distancing measures, posters and information points, and, crucially, you should be wearing a face covering.”

His remarks come after announcing a further £46.7m of funding available to bus operators on Friday.

It will cover any loss of fare-paying passenger revenue anticipated because of the physical distancing measures and reduced capacity on vehicles.

Mr Matheson added: “Remember capacity will be around 10 to 20% of normal, even when full services resume.

“It is therefore perhaps inevitable that there will be some circumstances where the two-metre rule is breached, even temporarily.

“That is why all passengers have to wear a face covering.

“I continue to engage directly with business leaders and major employers and I am encouraging them to embrace these changes which can help us all adapt to a new working and business environment.

“We are increasing the frequency of public transport, but without a significant reduction in demand, the plan won’t work.

“I am pleased that we are already seeing some real ambition from local authorities and partners in terms of redesigning the landscape and infrastructure around our towns and cities, supported by Scottish Government funding, and I look forward to seeing more of these measures being rolled out over the coming weeks and months.”

Meanwhile, further changes coming into effect on Monday include dental practices being able to offer in-person appointments to NHS patients in need of urgent care.

This change is only for treatments which do not create aerosol particles, such as happens when dental drills are used.

Scotland’s chief dental officer Tom Ferris said: “Dental practices will be able to see NHS patients who are in need of urgent care for face-to-face consultation, using procedures which limit the risk of spread of using coronavirus such as non-aerosol-generating procedures.

“This will mean up to an additional 10,000 appointment slots available per day across Scotland.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code