Some bus companies to keep masks compulsory in West Midlands

Some bus operators in the region will still ask customers to wear face coverings when they are no longer legally compulsory after July 19.

Masks will not be legally mandatory on public transport from July 19 - but operators can choose to turn people away
Masks will not be legally mandatory on public transport from July 19 - but operators can choose to turn people away

Transport companies have the power to turn away customers who refuse to cover their noses and mouths even when the legal requirement is lifted on July 19.

The Government has said it will be up to operators to decide whether passengers will be required to wear face coverings from Monday.

Most major firms have said they will let passengers travel with or without a covering, but some firms operating in the region have said they will tell passengers to stay covered.

D&G Bus, which operates services in Staffordshire, said it would continue to require masks to be worn.

Bus network manager Chris Almond said: “We are still requesting that passengers wear a face covering when travelling with us.

“We are also continuing the use of having a safety screen for the driver and issuing relevant PPE to all staff on request.”

Meanwhile a spokesperson for Diamond Bus said the group would continue to ask customers to wear a mask – but drivers would not be asked to enforce the rule.

They said: “Government guidance still strongly recommends that wearing a face covering in enclosed or busy public spaces is an important factor in protecting yourself and others around you.

“In line with this recommendation, Diamond Bus will respectfully ask that customers continue to protect themselves and others by choosing to wear a face covering onboard unless they are exempt.

“To avoid any confusion or conflict, we will not be asking our drivers to enforce any wearing of face coverings from July 19.

“As Government regulations will continue to be reviewed throughout the roadmap process, Diamond Bus will update this information in-line with any changes in Government policy.”

Despite removing the legal obligation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “we expect and recommend” that people continue to wear face coverings in “crowded and enclosed spaces … such as on public transport”.

The Confederation of Passenger Transport, which represents major bus operators including National Express, announced that its members will not mandate the wearing of face coverings from Monday.

A spokesman said: “We expect that many people, especially in busy places, will follow the Prime Minister’s call to continue to wear a face covering as a courtesy to others.

“Passengers though will find it difficult to understand why the Prime Minister has singled out public transport as somewhere to wear a face covering when a range of other activities share its characteristics.

“We now need to see clear guidance for operators and customers but, in the absence of regulations, it is important that we respect everyone’s right to choose whether to wear a face covering.

“The industry is doing everything it can to ensure people can travel with confidence. Operators will continue to deliver enhanced cleaning regimes, ensure buses are well ventilated and provide tools such as apps to allow customers to see how busy their bus is and help plan their journey in advance.”

National Express confirmed customers will be able to choose whether they wear a mask on buses in the West Midlands from Monday.

Cross Country Trains, Avanti West Coast and West Midlands Railway/London Northwestern Railway all referred to the Rail Delivery Group’s (RDG) position of urging people to wear a covering when carriages are busy.

A spokesperson for the RDG said: “Rail companies will ask people to follow the government guidance and, out of respect for 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.”

Transport for West Midlands, the transport arm of the West Midlands Combined Authority, is yet to issue guidance.

A spokesperson said: “We are, in cooperation with transport partners, in the process of updating the advice on face coverings.

“We want people to use public transport as we recover from the pandemic and, crucially, we want people to feel safe on board. Transport operators will continue with the cleaning regimes they have adopted throughout the pandemic.

“The vast majority of people have been very helpful and followed the rules on board our buses, trains and trams throughout the pandemic.

“We would ask therefore that they continue to be considerate to fellow passengers and our transport staff.”

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