Will I still have to wear a mask on public transport in Maidenhead?

Will I still have to wear a mask on public transport in Maidenhead?

Today (Monday) marks the point when nearly all legal restrictions on social contact in England end, with many dubbing the occasion 'freedom day'.

One of the main changes includes the loss of the legal requirement to wear masks and socially distance, with these two rules in force continuously throughout the past 16 months.

But what about public transport? 

The Government said that it 'recommends' people wear face coverings in enclosed spaces, while the Royal Borough's lead member for health, Cllr Stuart Carroll, added last week that, if unsure, people should continue wearing masks where they previously did.

He added that public transport, as well as music and sporting venues, were some of the scenarios when he would advise people to wear one.

Below is a summary of the rules for different public transport sectors in and around Maidenhead: 


Buses

Thames Valley Buses (formerly Courtney Buses) operates services in the town, and said that it is 'advising' customers to wear face coverings, but it cannot enforce this.

General manager of the firm, Simon Fisher, added it would be 'putting the driver in a very difficult situation' if it did.

"The tone of our message is that buses are clean and well ventilated, seldom (in RBWM at least) crowded, and people are on board for a relatively short time, without facing each other," Mr Fisher added.

"A lot of damage was done to our industry in the early days with the 'avoid public transport' message, and whilst we want people to be safe, we don’t want to portray that using a bus is any less safe than activities such as being in a restaurant or shop.

"I also think that the agenda is being pushed very much by London and metropolitan areas, where buses and tubes are often very crowded, which is not the case for our services.

"We are advising customers to wear a face covering to help avoid spreading the virus, especially when the bus is busy, but we have no means to enforce this and it would be putting the driver in a very difficult situation if we attempted to do so.

"Whilst we did earlier in the year require our drivers to wear a face covering, that requirement is no longer mandatory, and with drivers all behind a screen now, they can choose to do so if they wish."


Trains

Maidenhead is served by two rail companies - Great Western Railway (GWR) and Transport for London (TfL).

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group - on behalf of GWR - said that train travel is 'low risk' and benefits from open windows and air conditioning systems, adding that it expects people to wear masks if the train is busy. 

“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," he said.

"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.”

TfL said last week that it still expected travellers to wear face masks on its services from today (Monday), despite the easing of restrictions.

Maidenhead is served by TfL trains despite the Crossrail project being pushed back until as late as 2023.

Andy Byford, London's Transport Commissioner, said: “I urge everyone to continue to follow the advice and requirements, including to wear face coverings while traveling on our network. 

“The transport network is cleaner than ever, with an enhanced cleaning regime, hospital grade cleaning products, widely available hand sanitiser and UV light fittings on escalator handrails to kill viruses."

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