Have you got it covered? That’s the question being asked by Northern as face coverings on trains become mandatory on Monday 15 June.
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as more people return to work, all customers and staff are being asked to wear face coverings when on trains and at stations.
Face coverings can include masks, reusable cloth coverings and a whole range of other options including scarves and bandanas – as long as the wearer’s nose and mouth are covered. This government directive is being implemented on all forms of public transport.
Some people are exceptions from wearing face coverings, including children under 11, people with breathing difficulties and those with conditions or disabilities that make it difficult for them to wear a face covering. For further information, please see current government guidance here.
Chris Jackson, Regional Director at Northern, said: “We all need to do our bit to help the country recover from the coronavirus pandemic and to help prevent the further spread of the virus.
“Face coverings can reduce the risk to other people and by following the guidance we can all work to keep each other – customers and staff – as safe as possible.
“It also important that customers take their face coverings with them at the end of their journey. Even if masks are disposable, they shouldn’t be left on trains for cleaning staff to deal with.”
The government mandate will cover the majority of passengers, although there will be some exemptions for some staff and customers who are not able to wear a face covering for specific medical reasons.
Northern is asking all passengers to be mindful and respectful of this fact and customers should not challenge others who are not able to wear a covering.
As well as asking people to wear face coverings, Northern is also reminding its customers that public transport should only be used if no other options are available.
Non-essential shops are set to reopen on 15 June, but this doesn’t mean non-essential journeys should be made by train.
Chris added: “We completely understand that, with shops opening, people will want to get out and about, but they should only travel by train if their journey is essential, this does not include day trips and non-essential shopping.
“Social distancing measures are still in place on our trains which means capacity on our services is reduced by as much as 85 per cent. We need to keep the spaces on our trains for those who have no other option such as key workers and those who can’t work from home
“Those who do need to travel by train should follow a few simple steps; maintain social distancing where possible, wash hands before and after travel and, of course, wear a face covering.”
Customers should also leave extra time for travel and check times carefully as services may be subject to amendments and delays.
For full details check the Northern website or National Rail Enquiries.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a face covering?
At its very simplest, a face covering is something that covers your mouth and your nose, that minimises your ability to touch your face. Surgical facemasks, scarfs, homemade masks or material wraps are all perfectly acceptable.
Remember that face coverings are additional measures to help you and those around you keep healthy, along with washing your hands and social distancing.
Take a look at the government’s advice on face coverings if you are unsure about what to wear.
Why are face coverings now compulsory on trains?
Alongside social distancing, wearing a face covering helps make travelling by public transport safer for everyone during the coronavirus pandemic as it reduces the risk of onward transmission. You are helping to protect others by wearing a covering.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has identified that using face coverings [when travelling by public transport] can provide some small additional protection to fellow passengers and can help people to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus if they are suffering from coronavirus, but not showing symptoms.
What if I can’t wear a face covering for medical reasons or due to a disability?
You can still use public transport. We understand that not every disability is visible and will treat you with respect and offer the assistance you require.
If you need any additional support, please let a member of staff, on the platform or the train, know about your issue and they’ll make sure you’re able to travel safely.
How will this be enforced?
We expect our passengers will understand that these restrictions are in place for the safety of everyone.
If you aren't wearing a face covering on board a train, you will be may be reminded by staff and British Transport Police, about the current regulations. If a you refuse to wear a face covering, you could be issued with a fixed penalty notice and have to pay a fine. British Transport Police also have the authority to refuse travel if necessary.
What’s the legal basis for this?
These regulations are being brought in through the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.
What should I do if I’m sitting in a carriage with someone who isn’t wearing a face covering?
There will be some staff and customers who will not be expected to wear a face covering due to health reasons.
We expect that the vast majority of our passengers will want to follow the new government guidelines to keep themselves and others safe. Regardless of whether someone is wearing a covering, you should keep a safe distance from others where possible on board our trains or at stations.
Some of our Northern colleagues may have reasons not to be wearing a face covering and some may choose to wear a badge explaining that they are an exception. Please respect our staff and your fellow passengers who may not be able to wear a face covering.
We are asking all our customers not to challenge fellow passengers who aren’t wearing a face covering. They may have a valid reason for not wearing one, including hidden conditions that mean they are an exception.
If I have any concerns linked to face coverings who should I talk to?
If you have any concerns, please speak to a member of our team who will be happy to help. Please bear in mind, some people may not have to wear a face covering due to a hidden disability.
If face coverings are compulsory, do train operators have to supply them, or at least have them for sale, before they board?
Please bring your own face covering. We are unable to supply face coverings to customers but have provided our staff with them, so please remember your own if you are travelling with us.
Some larger stations may have vending machines where you can buy a face covering, however it is very important that plan in advance and bring your own.
Do children need to wear face coverings?
Children under 11 are not required to wear face coverings.
I have a hearing impairment and I rely on lip reading to understand what someone is saying, how will I be able to travel comfortably and communicate with your team?
We understand how challenging face coverings can make communicating with our staff when you have a hearing impairment. To help to overcome any problems you may have, our team have been asked to ensure they have a pen and paper as an alternative way of communicating.
Who can I speak to if I have a question that hasn’t been covered here?
Our Customer Experience Centre will be happy to help with any queries you may have, they can be contacted on 0800 200 6060. You can review the list of people who don’t need to wear a face covering here.