Face coverings on public transport

I’m getting a few people contacting me through the Contact Form on this website to ask questions about why people aren’t wearing face coverings or why drivers aren’t challenging people and enforcing this.

First of all, the contact form is for people to get in touch with general enquiries regarding content presented on this website.

It is NOT a contact form for making complaints about bus operators, passengers or transport authorities.

Please, if you’d like to ask these kinds of questions and get answers from fellow bus users, that’s why I created the Community Forum! Please do sign up and have your say there, in an open public environment that everyone can join and get involved with.

Anyway, back to face coverings…

Why do we have to wear face coverings?

In line with the latest Government guidance, face coverings must be worn for the full duration of journeys on public transport from Monday 15 June.

This applies to passengers using buses, coaches, trams, trains and even ferries and planes, all forms of public transport.

Passengers are expected to wear a face covering, apart from when they are unable to.

Who doesn’t have to wear one?

The requirement to wear a face covering does not apply to:

  • 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
  • if you are allocated a cabin, berth or other similar accommodation, at any time when you are in that accommodation, either alone, or only with members of your own household or a linked household
  • if you are on board public transport but remain in your private vehicle, for example on a car ferry

The requirement to wear a face-covering also does not apply if you have reasonable grounds not to, these 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

Why don’t all bus drivers wear a face covering?

It is not a legal requirement for staff to wear a face covering. Only passengers. We understand this is confusing for some people and are working with the government around ways to help in this area. 

Each individual organisation has set out its own policy on face coverings with its staff as part of their cleaning and social distancing measures. 

https://www.networkwestmidlands.com/plan-your-journey/network-overview/advice-while-travelling-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/face-coverings/

Further information can be found at the West Midlands Network website. There is also a FAQ document available to download from NX Bus.


So in a nutshell, if you choose to obey the rules and wear your face covering, please don’t be so quick to judge others who are not, because they may have perfectly valid reasons for doing so.

From the above FAQ document provided by NX Bus:

Q2 Will the driver be enforcing all people to wear a face covering/mask?
According to the new legislation, some people don’t have to wear a face covering for health, age or equality reasons. We have trained our bus drivers to remind customers of the new rules, but they are also aware that customers may have perfectly valid reasons for not wearing a face covering, and that these are not always obvious. Therefore drivers will be
exercising their discretion.

Q4 Will I get refused if I do not have a face covering/ mask?
According to the new legislation, some people don’t have to wear a face covering for health, age or equality reasons. We have trained our bus drivers to remind customers of the new rules, but they are also aware that customers may have perfectly valid reasons for not wearing a face covering, and that these are not always obvious. Therefore drivers will be exercising their discretion.

Q7 Will I need proof that I’m exempt from wearing a facemask/face covering?
The government does not envisage that people relying on an age, health or disability related exemption will routinely be required to produce any written evidence in support of their reliance.

Q8 Will there be someone on the buses to police this or will there be inspectors doing spot checks?
From 15 June 2020, you must wear a face covering on public transport in England. You will be breaking the law if you fail to do so and could be fined.

In my own humble opinion, I do not agree with the scientific advice that has been presented to the government, which forms the basis of this new regulation, as I have seen counter evidence that shows that the wearing of face coverings is unneccessary and in some cases can actually be harmful to one’s health.

As for the reason why this is all happening in the first place, namely the ‘coronavirus pandemic’, that is certainly open to question, especially if you look beyond what the mainstream media and government are telling us.

Anyway I’ll stop myself before I go off on a tangent and go into territory beyond the scope of this website, but there’s always the Community Forum if people do want to debate this!

If you sincerely believe that wearing face coverings will ‘keep you safe’, then surely you have nothing to worry about from those who choose not to?

This new regulation is unenforceable to be honest, and it is relying on passengers to comply and follow the rules of their own free will. I don’t think it should be up to the driver to enforce this either, not while the requirement is so vague and open-ended.

Like with much of the government ‘guidance’ and ‘advice’ that has been forthcoming during this pandemic, it is full of contradictions.

“You MUST wear a face covering on public transport… unless you can’t.”

I would like to hear what other people think, and hear your ideas on how you’d like to see this enforced…


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