It will be compulsory for passengers travelling on public transport from next Friday onwards to wear a face covering.

With Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon’s decision yesterday, that from Friday July 10 face coverings will be mandatory when travelling on public transport in a bid to reduce the risk of Covid-19, it seems that the public will have to get used to the changes for the foreseeable future.

Translink have welcomed the decision. The new rule will apply to all passengers and Translink staff in public areas, although there will be exemptions especially for those who are not able to wear a face covering for specific medical reasons and children under the age of 13.

 Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon, Translink Group Chief Executive Chris Conway, and Translink’s Nicole Green[/caption]
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon, Translink Group Chief Executive Chris Conway, and Translink’s Nicole Green[/caption]

Translink Group Chief Executive, Chris Conway explained: “We understand this will be a big change for everyone and passengers will need time to adapt to the new culture. Over the coming week our staff will be helping people to understand the new guidance and in the initial period, we plan to give away a quantity of disposable masks to get people into the habit of wearing their own face covering.

“Working together we have come a long way through this crisis; this new measure is a further collective way we can help protect each other and travel safely together – it’s easy and it’s the right thing to do.

“Our staff will also be getting involved by wearing face coverings and helping encourage others to get onboard. In addition, we will have new signage and information on how to make your own face covering on our website and social media channels to inform and reassure passengers, so they have the confidence to use our services when they need to.

“We do hope people will comply with this new regime as this simple act could save lives if we all do it together.  This will be a legal requirement under the Covid-19 Public Health Legislation; however, we hope that enforcement won’t be necessary. If it is, we will work with the relevant bodies.”

Mr Conway added that the wearing of face coverings is just part of a range of measures to reduce the risk of transmission. 

“We still need to practice the wider safety and travel advice including good hand hygiene, using contactless payments, travelling off peak and social distancing. We will continue to carry out regular deep cleaning of vehicles and facilities, with mobile cleaning teams out during the day.”

 Translink bus driver Kieran Tolan is already prepared for the new regulations[/caption]
Translink bus driver Kieran Tolan is already prepared for the new regulations[/caption]

Announcing her decision, Minister Mallon said as restrictions on movement are eased, the safety of passengers and staff is a priority.

“The evidence suggests that you can reduce the risk of spreading the virus by wearing a face covering. That is why, with the support of my Executive colleagues and the unions, I am announcing that face coverings will be mandatory on public transport from Friday July 10.

“It is also important that you do not get a false sense of security about the level of protection a face covering offers. They are not a substitute for social distancing or good hand hygiene.

“While I know many will find it challenging in the coming days and weeks to keep up compliance with the rules, I want to applaud the public for their leadership.”