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.
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:
Well Woolwich Arsenal at 11am as usual had the barriers open and zero staff present. About half the people on my DLR train we’re not wearing masks. Rules are pointless if they’re not enforced.
— Gareth Stanley (@gmanistan) June 15, 2020
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.
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.
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.