Last updated at 15:53 on 01/01/2021
Face coverings are now a part of daily life for us all. So much so that, before leaving the house, we all check and double check that we’ve popped one in our pocket or bag.
Unless you’re exempt, you must wear your face covering properly throughout your whole journey.
Here are the key facts you need to know:
• It should cover your mouth and nose
• Keep it on throughout your journey, including indoor public transport hubs
• Spot checks are in operation
• There is a fine for not wearing a face covering unless exempt, for information on the possible fines go to the Government websites for England, Scotland and Wales.
• We encourage those with an exemption to show their sunflower lanyard or exemption card if it makes their experience more comfortable; this also allows drivers to see that you are exempt without having to ask.
Q. What is a face covering and where can I get one?
A. A cloth face covering should cover your mouth and nose while still allowing you to breathe comfortably, for example a scarf or bandana that ties snugly behind the head. You can buy a face covering but the Government has put together a guide showing you how you can make your own. Check out the Government guide.
Q. Will your drivers wear a face covering?
A. We've given face coverings to all of our frontline employees who can wear one, although some of our staff may be exempt. Our drivers have a protective screen that acts as a barrier but If the driver needs to leave their cab to help a customer, they must wear a face covering, if they can
Q. Are there exemptions from the new regulations?
A. The Government has put together a list of people who are exempt from wearing a face covering. Exemptions in England include:
· a child under the age of 11
· an employee of the transport operator, when they are acting in the course of their employment
· any other person providing services to the transport operator, under arrangements made with the transport operator, who is providing those services
· a constable or police community support officer acting in the course of their duty
· an emergency responder such as a paramedic or fire officer acting in the course of their duty
· an official, for example a border force officer, acting in the course of their duties
The requirement to wear a face covering also does not apply if you have a reasonable excuse not to.
Reasonable excuses include:
· if you have a physical or mental illness or impairment, or a disability that means you cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering
· if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering would cause you severe distress
· if you are travelling with, or providing assistance to, someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
· if you are travelling to avoid injury or escape the risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
· if you need to remove it during your journey to avoid harm or injury or the risk of harm or injury to yourself or others
· if you need to eat, drink, or take medication you can remove your face covering
· if you are asked to remove your face covering by a police officer or other official, for example to check your railcard that young children, people with disabilities and people with breathing difficulties can travel without wearing a face covering.
We've updated our Journey Assistance cards so you can show the driver that you're exempt. Apply for your Journey Assistance card.
Q. What are exemptions for not wearing a face covering, I'm autistic and can't have anything touching my face?
A. We understand that some people will be unable to wear a face covering and government guidelines have included some exemptions. We've updated our Journey Assistance cards and you can find the best one for you here.
Q. Do children need to wear a face covering?
A. In England, all children under the age of 11 are exempt from wearing a face covering. Children over this age must wear a face covering, unless they're exempt on medical grounds, in line with government guidance.
Q. How will drivers know if someone is exempt from the requirement to wear a face covering?
A. We've updated our Journey Assistance scheme so that anyone who is exempt from wearing a face covering will be able to show the card to their driver. If you’re exempt from wearing a face covering, we recommend that you download a Journey Assistance card.
Q. What happens if I don't wear a face covering?
A. Wearing a face covering on public transport is now a legal requirement by the government. If you do not wear a face covering you will be breaking the law and could be fined. We reserve the right to refuse people travel if they're not wearing a face covering.
Q. I've forgotten my face covering can I still travel?
A. It's now mandatory to wear a face covering when travelling on public transport, unless you're exempt, and we reserve the right to refuse people travel if they're not wearing a face covering
Q. How will the wearing of face coverings be enforced?
A. Ultimately, only police forces have the powers to enforce the new regulations by fining those not wearing face coverings as required. We'll continue to appeal to customers to act responsibly and follow the Government's rules.
Under exceptional circumstances, we may need to take further action by involving local police, but this would be a last resort.
Q. Will there be a fine for not wearing a face covering? How much will it be?
A. We'd expect our customers and drivers to work together at this time to support government guidance. Drivers will have discretion to take the most appropriate form of action and this may include in some limited circumstances contacting the police through their control room. This is not something we would expect a driver to do as a matter of course
Q. Why are drivers not preventing people who aren't wearing a face covering from travelling?
A. In line with the government guidelines, we are asking our drivers to engage, encourage and explain the regulations to customers. Regulations have now been in place for a while and we’d expect our customers to follow the rules. Our drivers do reserve the right to prevent people from boarding the bus if they feel this is the right course of action.
Q. If someone is travelling without a face covering what should I do?
A. Please bear in mind that some people are exempt from wearing a face covering and the reason why may not be immediately obvious. Our drivers will remind passengers that face coverings are now compulsory when travelling by bus unless they are exempt.
Q. Will face coverings be available at bus stations and on board buses and coaches?
A. No, customers have a responsibility to bring their own face covering.
Q. Why are you not providing hand sanitiser alongside requiring passengers to wear face coverings?
A. We're encouraging our customers to thoroughly wash their hands before and after travelling and to carry their own hand sanitiser. We are unable to provide hand sanitiser on board.
Q. Do I need to wear it in bus stations as well as on the bus?
A. It is now compulsory to wear face coverings when using in indoor public buildings. Remember to keep apart at the bus stop/station.
Q. Are face coverings required if the bus or coach service isn't open to the public?
A. Yes, they're required on all buses and coaches.
Q. Can I remove my face covering while I am on the bus or tram?
A. No. You should wear your face covering at all times while you are on the bus and only remove it once you have exited the bus, unless you are covered under the Government's list of exemptions.
Q. Can I drink water on a bus or coach on a hot day and remove my face covering to do so?
A. Yes, but please replace your face covering as soon as you've taken a drink.
Q. Has there been any consideration around the fact that coach journeys can be lengthy and we will be asking passengers to wear a mask for a considerable amount of time?
A. While we know wearing a face covering won't be the most comfortable experience, it's necessary to keep everyone safe and you're required by law to use a face covering on your journey on public transport.
We know that being able to eat and drink on a long journey, and other practical functions need to be taken into consideration, especially for those with medical needs.
Q. If I use a face covering, will there be somewhere to leave it when I get off the bus?
A. No, it's important for everyone's safety that you take any used face coverings with you and dispose of them carefully.
We ask that you follow the advice on using face coverings closely, which is to wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on and after taking it off, avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth at all times and store used face coverings in a plastic bag until you've had an opportunity to wash them.