|Bus, tram and rail passengers in Greater Manchester will be required to wear a face covering for the duration of their journey from June 15.|
|Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is advising passengers across all modes on the latest government guidance, which is based on the latest scientific advice.
The advice suggests that, although face coverings are unlikely to prevent an individual from catching the coronavirus, they can help prevent someone who is infected from infecting others and therefore help control the virus.
The only exceptions are young children, people with breathing difficulties and people whose disabilities makes it difficult for them to wear a face covering.
The latest figures show that, since the start of May, between seven and 12 per cent of passengers on Metrolink have been observed wearing a face mask.
To help encourage greater uptake across public transport, TfGM has been running a communications campaign to remind passengers of their collective responsibility to follow the Government’s travel guidance during the coronavirus outbreak in England. The campaign has included posters displayed at stops, interchanges and on-board vehicles to offer the latest safety advice to passengers, as well as digital advertising, social media and announcements on board trams and on platforms and in bus stations and interchanges.
As part of this, passengers who must use transport for essential journeys have been encouraged to wear a face covering to help maintain a safer environment and prevent the spread of the virus.
Face coverings can be a simple cloth that covers the nose and mouth. They can be made using many items found in the home or in many shops currently open. There is government guidance available on how to wear and make a cloth face covering. Alternatively, face coverings can be purchased at a number of local shops or online.
The introduction of the new requirement on face coverings does not alter the existing guidance from the Government that people in Greater Manchester should continue to work from home where possible and to only use public transport for essential journeys that cannot be made by other means such as walking and cycling.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “The mandating of face coverings on public transport is something we’ve been pushing for in Greater Manchester and I’m pleased the Government has moved to make it compulsory from 15 June.
“We’ve seen a gradual increase in the numbers of people using public transport since lockdown measures were eased, but the numbers of those wearing face coverings has remained relatively low.
“While we continue to discourage public transport use for anything other than essential journeys, we know more people will start needing to use our region’s buses, trains and trams over the coming days and weeks.
“We’ve got a collective responsibility to do what we can to help stop the spread of this virus, and wearing a face covering is not only a practical step we can take, it is something we know the public want to see* and will help to assure them that it is safe to use our public transport system.
“Over the next few days, we’ll be working with Transport for Greater Manchester, operators and the police to understand how this can be implemented in a safe and effective way.”
TfGM Customer Director Stephen Rhodes said: “We understand that people will have more questions about this and I’d like to reassure everyone that we are working with the Government as well as our partners and transport operators to ensure the policy is as clear as possible before 15 June.
“It’s important to add that wearing a face covering doesn’t replace existing social distancing measures. You should still keep a distance of 2m apart from other passengers while waiting for your service and on-board where possible.
“You should also wash your hands before and after your journey, use a tissue if you need to cough or sneeze, and using contactless payment if you can. If possible, carry a hand sanitiser with you.”
TfGM and is doing everything possible to provide a safe transport network for those people who need to use it. Measures to help enable social distancing wherever possible are being put in place. These include public announcements, new signage and platform stickers, as well as operating interchanges and stations differently through spacing, seating and queuing arrangements.
Metrolink operator, KeolisAmey Metrolink, has also put a rigorous cleaning regime in place for trams, stops and rest facilities. This includes use of an anti-viral cleaning product in driver cabs and across all common on-tram and on-stop touch points, such as door buttons, hand straps, handrails, poles, ticket machines, card validators, seats, handrails and lift buttons.
Measures have also been taken across Greater Manchester to encourage people to consider cycling and walking their journeys where possible. The recently launched #SafeStreetsSaveLivescampaign saw £5m of emergency funding made available for the Greater Manchester councils to introduce pop up, temporary measures to enable more space for those choosing to walk or cycle during the coronavirus pandemic. And the amount of people cycling has risen by 42% since the coronavirus epidemic started.
For information on public transport across Greater Manchester visit www.tfgm.com, call 0161 244 1000 (7am-8pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am-8pm at weekends and bank holidays) or follow @OfficialTfGM on Twitter.