Passengers on public transport in Chesterfield urged to follow Boris Johnson's guidance on wearing masks

Rail and bus companies serving Chesterfield are urging people to continue wearing masks on busy services.

Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 1:57 pm

It comes ahead of the so-called Freedom Day on July 19 – the term coined by Boris Johnson to refer to the end of all coronavirus measures, such as wearing a face mask and social distancing.

However, announcing the relaxation of restrictions, Mr Johnson said: “We expect and recommend that people wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with those you don't normally meet, such as on public transport.”

Transport for London, which operates buses, the Tube and some train services in the capital, has since ruled that wearing of face coverings on its services will remain compulsory.

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However, national rail companies say it will be optional.

East Midlands Railway, Northern and CrossCountry Trains each said they would “following industry guidance” from the Rail Delivery Group, the British rail industry membership body.

EMR operates inter-city services between Sheffield and London and regional services between Norwich and Liverpool, both via Chesterfield, as well as local services in the East Midlands, such as Derwent Valley Line services between Derby and Matlock, via Cromford and Whatstandwell.

CrossCountry operates long-distance services between the North-East and South-West, via Chesterfield, while Northern operates trains across the north of England, including Leeds-Nottingham, via Chesterfield.

Wearing a face covering on public transport will no longer be mandatory on some services from Monday, July 19.
Wearing a face covering on public transport will no longer be mandatory on some services from Monday, July 19.

An RDG spokesman 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 our passengers can travel with confidence.”

The RMT rail union has warned rail staff will be placed at danger of abuse and assault, due to the “botched, confused and inconsistent messaging over face coverings”.

East Midlands Railway operates inter-city services between Sheffield and London, via Chesterfield.

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‘Difficult to understand’

Louise Holroyde, regional marketing manager for bus operator Stagecoach, which operates routes in Chesterfield, said the firm had not made a firm decision regarding the wearing of masks on its services from Monday.

She said: “We are awaiting guidance from our national team, then we will be putting it out to our customers and the wider public.”

Passengers are being urged to continue wearing face coverings on busy services from Monday.

The Confederation of Passenger Transport, the trade association representing the UK's bus and coach industry, said: “We expect 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 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.”

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