Cross-Border passengers face compulsory face coverings

Travellers not wearing them on buses and trains face fines and being prevented from boarding.

Passengers wearing face masks boarding a LNER train. Picture: Danny Lawson.
Passengers wearing face masks boarding a LNER train. Picture: Danny Lawson.

Face coverings are to become mandatory on public transport in England from Monday 15 June, UK transport secretary Grant Shapps announced today.

It will mean passengers on cross-Border trains and coaches having to put them as they cross into England.

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Operators likely to be affected include rail firms LNER, Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, TransPennine Express and Caledonian Sleeper, along with coach company National Express.

A passenger wearing a face mask on a LNER train.

But Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy said he expected passengers to keep their face coverings on until they alighted “wherever they were”.

Scottish ministers have told The Scotsman new legislation would be required for mandatory face coverings north of the Border and they believe it would be difficult to enforce on public transport.

Mr Shapps said very young children, the disabled and people with breathing difficulties would be exempt from the English measure.

He said the move was needed as more people started travelling following the expected next stage of lockdown easing in England, when schools and shops would re-open.

He said: “We are doing what many other countries have asked passengers to do.”

He said the evidence suggested they offered some limited protection.

Mr Shapps said passengers not wearing covering would be refused travel and could be fined.

He said it would be up to the devolved administrations, such as the Scottish Government, whether to follow suit.

But he said on other issues, the same policy had been followed within days.

He said: “I do not think it will turn out to be terribly confusing.”

Mr Hendy said he respected the sovereignty of the devolved nations but said he expected passengers to put on face coverings when they started their journeys and keep them on until they got off “wherever they were”.

He said that was the “sensible and courteous” thing to do.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The First Minister has been consistently clear that there is benefit in wearing a face covering in reducing transmission of the Covid-19 virus and the public are encouraged strongly to wear one when travelling on public transport and when in shops or enclosed spaces.

“At the point when people begin to get back to work and are using public transport in greater numbers, there will be an expectation that everyone will wear face coverings on those journeys.

“Making this mandatory is something which the Scottish Government continues to keep under consideration.

“However, there would be exemptions for those who are unable to wear face coverings for health reasons, such as asthma.”

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