It focusses on the duties placed on operators to provide information to passengers on face coverings under Regulation 12A and to have regard to guidance issued by the Welsh Ministers under regulation 13 (1A).
Who is this guidance aimed at?
This guidance is primarily aimed at operators of public transport services. A ‘public transport service’ is any service which is provided for the carriage of passengers by road, railway, tramway, air or water. This includes, but is not limited to, operators of rail, bus and tram services. It also applies to taxis and to tourist services, such as mountain railways and excursion buses.
It should be read in conjunction with the earlier guidance to the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 2) (Wales) Regulations which has been revised in the light of the amendments to the regulations.
Separate guidance has been issued to the public about the requirement for passengers to wear a face covering on public transport and the exceptions to the requirement.
The Welsh Government is recommending the face covering should be a 3 layer face covering.
Local authorities should also have regard to this guidance where they are responsible for operating public transport services or public transport facilities.
The duties on operators to provide information
Operators are required to provide information to passengers about the requirement to wear face coverings on their vehicles.
Operators must have regard to this guidance, and wider Welsh Government guidance on the requirement to wear face coverings.
What information should be provided?
Transport operators are required to provide information about the legal requirement to wear face masks to those intending to use their vehicles.
This information may be provided in a variety of ways. For example:
- Transport operators websites should carry specific information on wearing face coverings as part of the conditions of travelling and may provide links to other useful websites – for example, showing how to make a face covering and this guidance on how to wear a face covering properly
- Notices advising passengers of their legal obligation to wear face coverings should be displayed in a prominent place on board the transport (in both English and Welsh) whenever feasible
- Notices and information should also be provided at facilities such as bus stops, train stations, ferry terminals, and departure lounges
- Information may be given orally, or in written form. Operators should consider the most efficient way of ensuring that all passengers are made aware of the requirement in the circumstances of the particular location
- Operators will want to consider the diverse needs of passengers, and should consider whether the information should be made available in different formats, for example for people with sight or hearing impairment and, if necessary, in other languages.
Drivers, crew and on board staff can have a role in explaining what the requirements are and encouraging passengers to comply with the regulations and wear face coverings. Wearing face coverings should be regarded as an essential behaviour for travel alongside other well-established behaviours. For example, drivers and transport operators can, with good reason, refuse to carry passengers who attempt to smoke on board. Smoking in this circumstance is viewed as a threat to the health of drivers, staff and other passengers. Similarly a driver can refuse to carry a passenger who fails to wear a face covering when boarding a bus, for example, for the same reason unless they have an exemption or a reasonable excuse not to do so.
The Welsh Government hopes that passengers using public transport will understand the reasons for wearing face coverings and will do so. It is vital however that the new rules are explained to passengers and that they have an opportunity to comply.
If the operator, an employee or a person authorised by the operator (such as a bus driver or train guard), has reasonable grounds to suspect that a person is about to fail to wear a face mask on the relevant vehicle (such as by trying to board without wearing a face covering), they may direct the person not to board the vehicle.
If a passenger ignores such an instruction, this (of itself) is an offence. It is also an offence not to wear a face covering on public transport unless an exemption applies or a passenger has a reasonable excuse for not doing so. The operator, an employee or a person authorised by the operator are not expected to take enforcement action. However, if circumstances necessitate it, they may wish to call the British Transport Police / the Police to report the issue.