Sunday, 25 Jul 2021

Freedom Day: Facemask confusion as train companies flip-flop on Covid rules

UK 'given up on face masks on transport' says bus driver

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From today, the Government has removed legal requirement to wear facemasks on public transport and in shops but says it “expects and recommends” the public to continue the practice. Many businesses have set their own face mask requirements which has caused confusion.

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents passenger and freight rail companies, said it encourages passengers to wear masks on trains and stations when “busy”.

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group said: “Passengers should follow the government guidance and, as a courtesy to 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.”

Other operators said they expect masks to be worn on trains regardless of how busy it is, meaning long train journeys involving multiple rail services can quickly become a mess of rules and regulations.

On Twitter, one rail user asked the question: “Who decides if it is a quiet train?”

Another said the rules are as “clear as mud”.

LNER trains, owned by the Department for Transport, said passengers should “continue to wear a face covering on our trains and in our stations unless exempt”.

Great Western Railway (GWR) advises passengers wear a mask but noted “it isn’t mandatory from tomorrow.”

To confuse matters, masks must be worn in the capital after London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, proposed enforcing wearing face masks on London transport services, saying he was not prepared to put Londoners at risk.

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain around 400 officers would be enforcing the rules but admitted the scheme did not have national backing and was not yet law.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps backed Mr Khan’s plan saying it was “very much in line” with what ministers wanted despite the Government’s decision to scrap mandatory mask wearing.

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Mr Shapps told Sky News: “Whilst we are going from this being a legal requirement to guidelines, we do expect individual carriers to make sure they are putting in place whatever is appropriate for their network.”

He added: “The airlines have already said that you will need to carry on wearing masks on those.

“It is very much in line with what we expected – indeed wanted – to happen”

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