Mayor urges passengers to continue wearing face masks on public transport

The Mayor of the West Midlands has urged people travelling on public transport after July 19 to continue wearing their face masks.

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

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) said that while it does not have the power to make face masks mandatory, it will be expecting passengers to continue wearing them across all modes of transport.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: "Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) does not have the power to make face coverings mandatory across all modes of transport.

"Any changes in the law around the wearing of face coverings must come from the Government.

"We do, however, have a clear expectation of all passengers to continue to wear their face coverings across all modes of public transport.

"We will have staff out and about at stations and on services relaying this message and handing out masks where needed.

"Myself and TfWM believe that wearing face coverings on public transport - particularly busy services - has an important role to play in protecting staff and vulnerable passengers.

"We would ask all passengers to join in this collective effort."

Offering advice for passengers using public transport after July 19, TfWM said: "Whilst guidance from central Government recommends wearing of face coverings when indoors and in close proximity to lots of people, including on public transport, TfWM and transport operators in the West Midlands will expect you to continue to act responsibly and continue to wear a face covering unless exempt.

"TfWM will work with transport operators across the region to implement this new guidance and these expectations."

Most major firms have said they will let passengers travel with or without a covering. But D&G Bus, which operates services in Staffordshire, said it would continue to require masks to be worn.

Diamond Bus said customers must still wear a mask - but drivers would not be asked to enforce the rule. A spokesman said: "As part of Step 4 of the roadmap, the Government has removed the legal mandatory wearing of face coverings. However, the Government has stated that it expects and recommends that face coverings are continued to be worn in crowded and enclosed spaces, such as public transport, when mixing with people you don’t normally meet.

"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.”

National Express confirmed that customers will be able to choose whether they wear a mask. A National Express West Midlands spokesman said: "Following changes to government rules, from Monday, July 19, National Express West Midlands customers can choose whether they wear a face covering on public transport. It is important that we respect everyone’s right to choose whether to wear a face covering.

"At National Express West Midlands, we are doing everything we can to ensure people can travel with confidence. Buses are very well ventilated and we will still be operating our enhanced cleaning regimes. We also have an online tool that customers can use to see how busy their bus is, to help them plan their journey in advance."

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group 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.”

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