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Are too many travellers ignoring face mask rules on Suffolk’s public transport?

PUBLISHED: 14:47 31 July 2020 | UPDATED: 15:04 31 July 2020

Ipswich Buses passengers have been obeserving the rules on face coverings. Picture: IPSWICH BUSES

Ipswich Buses passengers have been obeserving the rules on face coverings. Picture: IPSWICH BUSES

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Public transport operators say they are pleased that most passengers are obeying rules to wear face coverings on buses and trains across the region.

Greater Anglia employee Alex Wilmot at Ipswich station. Face coverings are now mandatory on stations and trains.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNGreater Anglia employee Alex Wilmot at Ipswich station. Face coverings are now mandatory on stations and trains. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

But some travellers have been left feeling worried about the number of younger travellers not observing the rules. Staff do not have the legal powers to challenge those who are ignoring the regulations.

MORE: Face coverings compulsory on Public transport

Peter Finch, from Cockfield, near Bury St Edmunds, said he had been concerned while travelling on a double decker bus to the town. On the upper deck he saw a young man travelling with no mask and an older couple wearing masks that did not cover their mouths and noses.

Ipswich rail enthusiast John Day has been on trips around the region since restrictions were eased two weeks ago. He said most trains were fairly empty, but he had seen more people on services to resorts like Felixstowe, Lowestoft and Cromer. And he was concerned about some of the passengers he had seen.

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He said: “No enforcement, despite announcements on trains. Too many passengers think it doesn’t apply to them. Sadly, the age group are teenagers and young adults who are blasé about the whole issue.

“The Felixstowe trains I saw leaving Ipswich this morning were full, families, bikes, buggies and large groups. I can see where these ‘spikes’ are coming from and will not be surprised if it gets worse.”

A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia said that more than 85% of passengers were complying with rules on face coverings and on many trains it was more than 95%. She added: “Some people do have exemptions and we don’t have enforcement powers – but our information campaigns seem to be getting through.”

MORE: Rail bosses say it is safe to return to trains

Ipswich Buses General Manager Stephen Bryce said there was some confusion when the rules were first brought in, but now almost all passengers were clear about the requirement and there were no real problems.

At First Eastern Counties, bosses have found the same and Jeremy Cooper, from Chambers Buses, which operated the service Mr Finch was on, said: “We are pleased to see that most of our customers are using face coverings, which are essential where a 2m social distancing cannot be maintained, and an increasingly accepted part of everyday life.

“It would be wrong to discriminate against those with disabilities who are exempt from wearing masks, and we have been encouraging those who are exempt to download our “Helping Hand” card to show the driver as they board. The current regulations do not give our drivers power of enforcement.”


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