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Assaults after ‘face mask rage’ on Ipswich Buses

PUBLISHED: 17:29 21 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:39 21 October 2020

Stephen Bryce, general manager of Ipswich Buses. Picture: STEPHEN BRYCE

Stephen Bryce, general manager of Ipswich Buses. Picture: STEPHEN BRYCE

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Police have been called about three cases of “face mask rage” on Ipswich Buses as the council-owned company tries to make passengers feel safer in the wake of Covid-19.

Two drivers have been assaulted by passengers after asking them to put on a mask – while an eight-year-old child was assaulted by another passenger for not wearing a mask. Children under the age of 11 are not required to wear masks on public transport.

No-one was seriously hurt in any of the assaults and police have not made any arrests.

MORE: Police seek passenger who kicked driver

Ipswich Buses general manager Stephen Bryce said generally that compliance was good – about 98% of passengers required to wear masks were doing so.

He said: “Our drivers now carry a limited number of pre-sealed disposable masks, so if anyone tries to catch a bus and has genuinely forgotten to bring a mask, they will be given one.

“If they refuse to put it on, they will be told they cannot get on the bus.”

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The company had done a survey which found that 95.3% of passengers were wearing face masks. Of those who were not, two thirds either had valid exemptions or were younger than 11 years old so did not have to wear masks.

Mr Bryce said: “It is not possible to fully socially-isolated on bus journeys, which is why there is the requirement to wear a mask – but we have gone to great lengths to make it as safe as possible.”

Vehicles are cleaned every day and once a week they are given a special fogging treatment that is aimed at killing germs for seven days at a time.

The company is currently carrying about 50-55% of normal passenger numbers – although some services, especially to schools, are running almost full.

Extra buses have been laid on from the town centre and railway station to the One Sixth Form centre because of the number of students heading there every day.

MORE: Passengers have returned to buses as traffic increases

Ipswich Buses has been awarded the government’s “Good to Go” certification, which shows it has done all it can to make their vehicles as safe as possible.

Its website has details of which buses are likely to have fewer passengers.

Mr Bryce said: “The assaults were totally unacceptable, but the overwhelming majority of our passengers are happy to wear masks to make their journeys safe – and if they have forgotten to bring a mask our drivers can normally help.”


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