Important update – Since the below guidance was released the government has announced that face coverings are mandatory for those travelling on public transport as from 15th June 2020!
On the 12th May the government released its new transport guidance for passengers as more people return to work in England. In the first instance people should stay alert in order to control the virus this means:
- stay at home as much as possible
- work from home if you can
- limit contact with other people
- keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
- wash your hands regularly
- Self-isolate if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.
This guidance explains how to travel safety during the COVID-19 outbreak (Please note that in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the lockdown has not been eased in the same way as England and ‘Stay at Home’ measures are still in place at this time). The guidance provides information on walking, cycling, using private vehicles (for example cars and vans), and travelling by taxis and public transport (for example trains, buses, coaches and ferries).
One of the key messages is to avoid using public transport where possible. Instead try to walk, cycle, or drive. If you do travel, thinking carefully about the times, routes and ways you travel will mean we will all have more space to stay safe. Those travelling to work should consider the following:
Is your journey necessary – To help keep yourself and your fellow passengers safe, you should NOT travel if you are experiencing and COVID-19 symptoms or self-isolating as a result of any symptoms or sharing a household with someone with symptoms. In addition, do not travel if you are clinically extremely vulnerable. Before you travel, consider if your journey is necessary and if you can, stay local. Try to reduce your travel. This will help keep the transport network running and allow people who need to make essential journeys to travel. You can reduce your travel by:
- working from home where possible
- shopping less frequently and shopping locally
Walking and cycling – Walking and cycling will reduce pressure on the public transport system and the road network. Consider walking and cycling if you can. Local cycling schemes can be used. Your local council can help you plan your journey by providing maps showing dedicated paths and routes.
Where possible, try to maintain social distancing when you walk or cycle, for example when approaching or passing other pedestrians or waiting at crossings and traffic lights. Where using bikes (private, docked or dockless) wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands before and after cycling. Consider making a list of items to take with you.
Public transport – Consider all other forms of transport before using public transport. Before and during your journey, check with your transport operator for the latest travel advice on your route. Travel may take longer than normal on some routes due to reduced capacity and social distancing measures. Allow sufficient time if your journey involves changes between different forms of transport. Plan ahead by identifying alternative routes and options in case of unexpected disruption. If you can, travel at off-peak times (your transport operator can advise on off-peak times). Your employer may agree alternative or flexible working hours to support this. Where possible, book your travel online through your transport provider’s ticketing app or website. Consider contactless payment to buy tickets. Taking a less busy route and reducing the number of changes (for example between bus and train) will help you keep your distance from others. Public Health England recommends keeping a 2 metre distance from other people, where possible. Where this is not possible you should keep the time you spend nears others as short as possible and avoid physical contact. Try to start or end your journey using a station or mode of transport you know to be quieter or more direct. For instance, walk the first or last mile of your journey, or alight at an earlier station, where this is possible.
Face Coverings – There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas. It is mandatory to wear a face covering as from 15th June 2020 if you need to use public transport. A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment in industry. This type should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings, like those exposed to dust hazards. If you wear a face covering, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and after taking them off.
Social Distancing – Some routes may be busier than usual due to social distancing measures or changes to previous timetables or schedules. Keep your distance from people outside your household. Public Health England recommends keeping a distance of 2 metres, where possible. The key thing is to not be too close to other people for more than a short amount of time, as much as you can. The risk of infection increases the closer you are to another person with the virus and the amount of time you spend in close contact: you are very unlikely to be infected from just walking past another person. There may be situations where you can’t keep a suitable distance from people, for example when boarding or alighting, on busier services, at busier times of day and when walking through interchanges. In these cases you should avoid physical contact, try to face away from other people, and keep the time you spend near others as short as possible. At present wear a face covering on public transport and as from 15th June 2020 this will become mandatory. Be aware of the surfaces you touch. Be careful not to touch your face. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing. Treat transport staff with respect and follow instructions from your transport operator. This may include:
- notices about which seats to use or how to queue
- additional screens, barriers or floor markings
- requests to board through different doors or to move to less busy areas
Help keep yourself, other passengers and transport staff safe:
- wait for passengers to get off first before you board
- ensure you maintain social distancing, where possible, including at busy entrances, exits, under canopies, bus stops, platforms or outside of stations
- be prepared to queue or take a different entrance or exit at stations
- wait for the next service if you cannot safely keep your distance on board a train, bus or coach
- respect other people’s space while travelling
- avoid consuming food and drink on public transport, where possible
- be aware of pregnant, older and disabled people who may require a seat or extra space
- be aware that some individuals may have hidden disabilities
Seek assistance if you need it – If you require assistance when travelling and would normally contact your transport operator ahead of time, continue to do so. If any problems arise or you feel ill during your journey, speak to a member of transport staff. In the case of an emergency, contact the emergency services as you normally would. If you need help, maintain a short distance from members of staff, where possible. If this isn’t possible, you should try to avoid physical contact and keep the time you spend near staff as short as possible.
Completing your journey – When finishing your journey, we recommend you:
- consider walking or cycling from the station or stop you arrived at
- follow local guidance
- wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible – do the same for children within your care if they have travelled
The full guidance covers all other modes of transport including taxis and private vehicles. To see the full guidance please see below link: