PASSENGERS on trains and trams in England must wear face coverings from today, at the risk of a £100 fine if they fail to comply.
The Department for Transport said more than 3,000 extra staff will be on duty to advise and help passengers.
Although service levels are being gradually increased to add capacity, the DfT emphasised that ‘the advice is clear that people should continue to avoid taking public transport where possible’.
Face coverings for people using trains and other public transport remain strongly recommended in the rest of the United Kingdom, but they are not mandatory and there are no penalties for ignoring the advice.
The English rules also apply on all other forms of public transport, such as buses and ferries.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has been considering making coverings compulsory on Transport for London services since at least 21 May and was reported to be pressing for a nationwide law, but the new English regulations cover all rail, bus and other services from today, including the London Underground.
Some train operators have been reinforcing the message by putting ‘masks’ on some of their more high profile trains. Avanti West Coast is applying ‘face mask’ designs on some of its Pendolinos at Longsight depot in Manchester, and Great Western Railway is unveiling a ’masked’ Intercity Express at Bristol Temple Meads today.
Meanwhile, as ‘non-essential’ shops start to reopen from today speculation continues that Boris Johnson is considering halving the social distance required from two to one metres. This already applies in a number of other countries, and there are fears that maintaining the two-metre rule could cause more serious damage to the economy. Medical experts have differing views but the government’s scientific advisers are reported to be urging caution, although the World Health Organisation describes one metre as the ‘minimum’ needed to make cross-infection unlikely.