Face masks ‘expected’ on public transport as lockdown lifts

Rail, bus and tram services will be operating at 25% capacity or lower under new Scottish Government plans.

Transport: Public health sign at Edinburgh Waverley station. Getty Images
Transport: Public health sign at Edinburgh Waverley station.

Scots will be “expected” to wear face coverings on public transport as the lockdown begins to be eased, the transport secretary has said.

Michael Matheson said two-metre social distancing would be in place on buses, trains and trams across Scotland but accepted on some journeys this would not always be possible.

Updating MSPs on the Scottish Government’s plan for public transport, published on Tuesday, he said passengers should wear a mask or cloth covering over their mouth and nose as an “additional measure”.

He also said social distancing on public transport – even as Scotland moves through the first three phases of its four-stage plan to exit lockdown – would mean operators using 25% or less of its normal capacity.

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Phase one of the Scottish Government’s strategy to lift coronavirus restrictions is expected to begin on Friday.

Matheson told MSPs: “It can be difficult for people to maintain physical distancing throughout their journey on some forms of public transport.

“I know from my discussions with the trade unions, operators and surveys of public sentiment that these are real and live concerns.

“For that reason, people should, and are expected to, wear face coverings as an additional measure when using public transport and as a consideration to staff and other passengers.”

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He said there were special circumstances where people should not wear face coverings, such as young children and asthmatics.

As the country eases lockdown, the transport secretary said it was of “paramount importance” that everyone takes personal responsibility for their own safety and those of others.

He told MSPs: “The level of physical distancing needed as we navigate the phases of the route map will obviously affect the supply of public transport capacity, with operators estimating that two-metre physical distancing means capacity is somewhere between 10% and 25% of normal.”

Matheson added that there would be substantial constraints on the pre-pandemic journey numbers of about 1.5 million a day.

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