Mayor of Greater Manchester to make face coverings mandatory on UK’s largest light rail system
Date published: 15 July 2021
Covid restrictions are being relaxed from Monday
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has announced that passengers on Metrolink – the UK’s largest light rail network – will have to continue to wear a face covering unless exempt when government restrictions are lifted, to provide reassurance and protect the most vulnerable.
The announcement comes ahead of the removal of legal measures imposed by government on Monday 19 July, which mandate the wearing of a face covering on all public transport in England.
The new rules will be implemented from next Monday, following the Mayor’s decision to contact Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to request they amend the Conditions of Carriage on Metrolink. Failure to comply with the new Conditions of Carriage, could see passengers refused travel, escorted off Metrolink services - or facing a fine of up to £100. Passengers using bus stations and interchanges will also be required to wear face coverings unless exempt.
All of the changes will be kept under continual review and any changes will be led by science and public safety considerations.
While the wearing of face coverings on buses and trains themselves cannot be mandated - other public transport users as well as people using taxis and private hire vehicles in Greater Manchester will be strongly encouraged to wear face coverings while they are travelling.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “We all want to support our city-region as it reopens, and I believe that needs to be done as safely as possible for all of our residents.
“There are around 200,000 people in Greater Manchester who are clinically vulnerable and I believe the Government’s decision to drop the requirement to wear face masks on public transport could put those people more at risk when using public transport, or force them off altogether. I do not believe they should be put in that unfair position.
“I have been listening to people’s concerns and, in response, have decided to continue to require the wearing of face coverings on Metrolink as well as at bus stations and interchanges. To that end I have asked TfGM to make this a requirement for Metrolink and at bus stations and interchanges. I will also be strongly encouraging people to wear them on buses and trains.
“I hope the people of Greater Manchester will understand why I have taken this decision and will continue to wear face coverings on public transport. This is a city-region built on a strong sense of solidarity and doing the right thing by each other, and that will be demonstrated by continuing to wear our face coverings.”
The ongoing impact of Coronavirus is also affecting the delivery of public transport services and frequencies across Greater Manchester as a result of both positive tests and test and trace requirements. The impacts are being managed as best they can be through regular monitoring and service amendments – as well as the ongoing efforts of dedicated transport staff across all modes.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “The trams, trains and buses which operate across Greater Manchester are delivered by an exceptionally dedicated group of people who have really gone the extra mile since the pandemic started to help keep the city-region moving.
“Alongside the many other key workers who have played a vital role in tackling this situation, I would like to extend my thanks to them and applaud them for their continuing efforts in keeping us all moving.
“I would also add that by choosing to wear a face covering, unless exempt, you are also playing a part in helping to keep transport staff safe and boosting their confidence as well – so please ensure you wear a face covering on Metrolink and I strongly encourage you to wear one on buses and trams if you can.”
Alongside the requirement for passengers to wear a face covering on the Metrolink network and at bus stations and interchanges, and the strong encouragement for people to wear them on buses and trains, there are a range of other actions passengers can take to ensure everyone can travel with confidence:
- Clean your hands frequently by washing with soap and water or using hand sanitiser
- Use contactless payment if you can
- Where possible open windows to maintain fresh air flow and ventilation.
- Services are likely to be busier - if you can, travel during quieter times (between 10am and 3pm, and after 6pm during the week)
- Consider walking or cycling, particularly for short trips
- Please be kind and consider fellow passengers when travelling on public transport
In addition, TfGM and other transport operators continue to deliver a series of interventions to help keep passengers travelling with confidence including:
- Hand sanitiser dispensers have been installed at bus stations, at interchanges and on the busiest Metrolink stops.
- Commonly touched surfaces across the public transport network, including rails, handles and doors, are being disinfected and cleaned regularly.
- We're keeping fresh air flowing on trams, buses and trains.
- People with hidden disabilities are being supported to give them confidence to travel safely.
- Police and TravelSafe officers regularly patrol the public transport network to promote safe travel and engage with passengers about Covid-19 guidance.
- A range of tickets and passes are available to help people travel more flexibly.
To see the latest government guidance please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus or visit TfGM.com for the latest travel information and advice.
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