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Face masks needed – but with open stations across Southeastern who will enforce?

Bus in Greenwich

People using trains, buses tube and other public transport will need to wear a face mask from today on public transport unless a passenger has health issues that prevent them from doing so.

Bus drivers in London will have a tough time enforcing the issue today from some I expect. And on rail, I’ve noticed a few complaints today that people aren’t wearing any on Southeastern. The company state British Transport Police will be looking to enforce but seeing any BTP Officers on your average rail trip is extremely rare.

Barriers commonly open at many London suburban stations

Southeastern’s ability to monitor is hampered by having far fewer staff onboard trains for London suburban services compared to, say South West Railway, and many stations are unstaffed for much of the day compared to London Overound, c2c, Southern, Thameslink and others.

Southeastern and the DLR appear to be following the usual practice of leaving Woolwich Arsenal open:

This lack of staffing is one legacy of endless short-term extensions to the franchise dating back to the early 2010 so no plan for widespread gating and staffing from first to last train was ever implemented.

A busy yet open station on the Southeastern network

Then again, how many staff would want to risk confrontation with someone without a mask?

If staff have high quality masks as they ideally should (whether they all do is another matter) then it could be less of an issue. I’ve seen some people turned away at tube stations which higher levels of staffing on the network compared to Southeastern makes possible. However even on the Underground many staff have been lost due to cuts in recent years.

I wore a mask for the first time over the weekend – and I think I need to get a different type. I hadn’t seen any in supermarkets I’ve visited recently so had to order online. The type I have is pretty crap if you have hayfever. I ended up sneezing continuously worrying other passengers. Sorry about that.

Another open station in Greenwich

Face masks became a necessity for passengers in many European and Asian nations weeks if not months ago. The UK has lagged on many measures and this follows that pattern. From lockdown dates of schools and business back in March which lagged most nations and is now believed to have caused far greater and more prolonged cases of infection and death (plus economic damage according to the OECD), this latest example is yet another of following rather than leading.

Germany introduced measures over six weeks ago.

France did the same almost six weeks ago.

Austria did likewise and those in shops had to wear a mask as far back as March.

All now have new cases and deaths far below levels seen in Britain.

13 Comments

  1. Chris L

    Just seen people at bus stops around Plumstead without masks.

    • Chris Nash

      Masks aren’t required when you’re outdoors and not on public transport. I find them uncomfortable and hard to breathe through, so I’m not wearing one unless I’m forced to. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

      • HK

        There are plenty of scientific studies that conclude that wearing masks have a negative health effect!

  2. I stopped using the buses when passenger numbers rose. The advice to wear a mask is questionable since the mouth and nose are not the only entry points for the virus. To be fully protected, a visor should also be worn. However, when I return to public transport, I will comply and wear a mask and have just ordered the Delphis 3 pack masks being sold by Robert Dyas

    • Andy

      Agree fully there though I will keep to 4 wheels until things significantly improve. I’m fortunate that I don’t need to commute, however thanks for the heads up on the face masks, ordered some as they look half decent and it will be nice when I can get back to public transport, as much as I enjoy the car, there is only one way to get around London quickly during the day.

      I think if everyone actually took to wearing masks we could get back to some sort of normality sooner rather than later, unfortunately there will always be those that know best or won’t be told what to do 🙄

  3. Dawn Green

    Face covering not face masks 😉 There are several others ways as long as your nose & mouth are covered I have a face shield and will NOT be wearing a face mask as well unless I have to attend hospital As others have said many not wearing any type of protection medical exemptions aside would you want to tell someone not wearing a mask to get off bus etc ??

    • Correct, the advice is face covering but not necessarily a mask and I have seen many people who just use a scarf. However, to be fully protected the entry points for the virus – nose, mouth and eyes – need to be shielded as well as observing stringent hand washing. I can count on one hand the number of people I have seen wearing both a mask and face shield, with only one person also wearing latex gloves.

  4. james ross

    Several people on the buses today not wearing face coverings. also TFL signage should read to cover mouth and nose. face covering are not going to work when people are not covering their nose and mouth with the coverings or being placed under the chin. those without face covering do you really disrespect yourself so much!!!!!!

    • Daniel

      The rail unions have demanded police to enforce the rules. NO!. No other company can ask that. Also they are asking for key workers only on the trains.. Again NO!. They seem to forget who they work for. They make our lives a misery constantly and these petty demands just add insult to injury. If they can’t cope with the job then step aside and make room for people who can.

    • Andy

      Given face coverings predominantly protect others and offer limited protection to the user It’s probably more a case of having disrespect for others.

  5. Karen james

    Four buses yesterday,to and from work only myself and driver wearing face coverings, what’s going on.

  6. The driver is not going to engage with people not wearing a mask and there is no possible enforcement that can be applied.

  7. Tim Scott

    In the last couple of days I’ve seen every possible flouting of rules. I’ve seen people with a face covering get on the bus and then take them off as soon as they’re out of the driver’s line of vision. And some drivers are wearing them, while others aren’t. I saw one bus driver refuse entrance to a teenager not wearing a covering, while others are letting anyone on regardless of whether faces are covered. Clearly, many people don’t take such rules seriously any more, at least partially due to people like Dominic Cummings. And they’re unenforceable for the most part. Most people are going to do whatever they like and to hell with the consequences.

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