Local transport firms’ warning over new face masks rule

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public transport face masks
Face masks are mandatory on a buses from Monday

FERRY, train and bus operators have warned passengers in the New Forest and Christchurch they must comply with a government directive that people should wear face coverings on public transport from tomorrow (Monday).

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The measure was brought in by transport secretary Grant Shapps to reduce the transmission of coronavirus as demand for public transport is set to increase as more shops open from next week and people return to work.

A spokesman for train operator South Western Railway said: “We are confident that people will want to do the right thing, follow the rules and wear a face covering.

“We will be have lots of reminders up around stations and elsewhere, and remember, we are talking about coverings here which can be made quite simply, not surgical masks, so it will be relatively easy for people to do.”

He warned: “Ultimately though, rail staff will be supported by British Transport Police.”
But Andrew Wickham, managing director of Morebus, said the bus company still required clarification on the rules.

“Our understanding is that some passengers – including young children, people with some disabilities, and those with respiratory problems – will be exempt. But this still has to be confirmed.”

He added: “We will issue further guidance shortly.”

Yellow Buses, which runs services to Christchurch, Somerford, Highcliffe New Milton and the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, has announced it will be enhancing its timetables from Sunday.

Managing director David Squires said: “We have space on board our vehicles for people to travel, the enhanced timetables with social distancing and intensive cleaning regimes mean that we continue to offer safe travel across the conurbation.”

The ferries between Lymington and the Isle of Wight are currently suspended, but operator Wightlink said on its surviving routes, such as from Portsmouth, “all customers” must carry a face mask with them which they must wear outside their cars.

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