Go-Ahead Group-owned Brighton & Hove Buses and Metrobus are calling on everybody to follow brand new government rules and put on a face-covering before they board a bus, unless they are exempt from wearing one. Exemptions include children under 11, people with certain health conditions and disabled people.
Passengers with Disability Concessionary Passes should use them as normal and passengers with a Helping Hand card may show them to the driver when they board if they wish, although the company stresses that this isn’t a requirement.
Brighton & Hove Buses’ Managing Director Martin Harris said there was understandable uncertainty with the new rules, which were still just hours old, but strongly encouraged everybody who could wear a face covering to follow the new law.
“We all need to look out for one other during this virus,” Martin said. “Putting on a face covering before you travel is one of the most important things you can do to protect your fellow passengers and it’s now a legal requirement: if you can, you must.”
He said that passengers would need to bring their own face coverings to cover mouth and nose securely, but this could be something as simple as a scarf or a bandana, and guidance on making your own face covering is on the government website.
“Passengers without a face covering will not be refused travel and fellow passengers need to respect that some people have legitimate reasons for not wearing them, and are exempt under the government rules. But people who should be wearing them can be fined up to £100 for not wearing a face covering, so it’s really important for people to get into the habit of wearing one. For now, picking up a face covering before you leave the house needs to become as natural as remembering your keys or your phone.
“I have faith that the vast majority of people will do the right thing and put on a face-covering before travelling on public transport unless they are exempt. It’s an equally important part of the measures to enable people to travel safely, along with planning ahead to avoid the busiest journeys, high standards of frequent cleaning, capacity limitations on each bus, avoiding cash transactions as far as possible, and lots of extra buses out in service since 15 June.”
The new rules do not require bus drivers to wear face coverings in the cab, though some may do so, since they are fully behind a screen protecting both passengers and drivers, but if a driver needs to get out and be close to members of the public, for example, to assist a wheelchair user they will wear a mask supplied by the company.