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What is this?

 

This guidance provides advice on measures that are likely to be reasonable to take to minimise the risk of coronavirus on public transport in light of the introduction of COVID-19 Measures on 26 December 2021.

It should be used in conjunction with current Welsh Government regulations and other (more general) guidance.

Context

This action card relates to the measures those responsible for public transport must take, by law, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Those responsible for these businesses are required to take reasonable measures to minimise the risk of people being exposed to coronavirus, and spreading the virus, at their premises.

As a basis for deciding what measures should be taken, they must also carry out a specific assessment of the risk posed by the coronavirus.

This is not an exhaustive list and other reasonable measures not referred to below may be appropriate.

If you have questions or concerns please seek advice from your local authority’s environmental health department as soon as possible. Please be aware and respectful of the fact that their role is to ensure that appropriate reasonable measures are taken so that your venue can operate as safely as possible. However, it is not their role to approve your risk assessment.

Specific risks in these settings

Busy trains and buses, in particular, could pose a significant risk of spreading coronavirus if appropriate measures are not maintained, such as cleaning, wearing face coverings and maintaining space between passengers. It is important that businesses which operate facilities of this nature appreciate that the greater transmissibility risk of Omicron, and that people gathering on these vehicles could lead to a significant increase in cases of coronavirus. Many of those who use public transport will be aware of this and wary of the risk.

While risks will vary depending on the type of vehicle, and will depend on the number of people on the vehicle, the following risks will be typical:

  • close physical interaction and possible contact 
  • increased likelihood of face to face interaction
  • potential for crowding on busier services
  • potential for poor ventilation in some vehicles, particularly problematic where people spend prolonged periods together on the vehicles

What reasonable measures should I consider taking to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus?

While it is unlikely to be possible to mitigate the risks completely in settings of this nature, some measures are reasonable to take, so must be taken.

You should consider whether the following measures are reasonable to take. The measures you take should be informed by your assessment of the risk of coronavirus spreading at your premises and tailored to your specific circumstances. The Welsh Government has produced a standard template for coronavirus risk assessments, and there are is further information available to support you provided by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Social Distancing on vehicles

Operators should plan services and vehicle capacity in a manner that will provide for the maximum capacity to facilitate social distancing and do all that they can to promote the need for passengers to socially distance on board, and take all reasonable measures to ensure that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any persons on the premises, except between the members of a group, comprising of no more than 6 persons or members of the same household at Alert Levels 1 and 2, or at Alert Levels 3 and 4, comprising of members of the same household.. Possible measures that could be taken include where practicable extending the number of carriages on busier services and/or providing supplemental rail replacement services or utilising double decker buses and/or duplicates on busier bus routes.

In determining the extent to which it is reasonable or practicable to take a particular measure to ensure that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between persons on the premises, the person responsible for the premises may have regard to other measures taken to mitigate the risk of exposure to coronavirus.

Protecting Public Health and maintaining Public confidence should be the priority. If, however, maintaining 2 metre social distancing in all cases would make operations commercially unviable, then operators could feasibly go below 2 metres, but only so long as other reasonable mitigations are put in place to prevent transmission. Clearly, in such circumstances the importance of taking other reasonable mitigating measures increases. Risk assessments will need to consider carefully the balance between these matters if anything less than 2 metre social distancing is maintained. If it is proposed that less than 2 metre social distancing is maintained but other reasonable mitigating measures will not sufficiently mitigate the risk of exposure to the virus, this suggests that physical distancing is still required.

Operators should communicate how safety measures are being implemented to staff and passengers and make clear what is expected of them, in particular consider the use of social media to advise where services may be in high demand that may mean that the ability to social distance would be challenging, allowing passengers to make informed choices about when to travel.

Prevent crowding

Controlling movement of people so that where possible passengers can safely distance themselves from others. Maintaining physical distancing between individuals and between groups remains an effective control measure in premises where there is mixing of different groups of people.

Controlling entry and exit points and queues (where practicable) to prevent people coming together both while on vehicles and while waiting to enter vehicles.

Encouraging passengers to sit or stand evenly throughout a vehicle or carriage so that they don’t gather in disproportionate numbers in one part of the vehicle or carriage.

Bus operators are encouraged to only allow passengers to use forward facing seats to reduce the potential for transmission of the virus.

Limit your capacity

Limiting numbers will reduce the extent to which close physical interaction will occur, in particular by reducing the potential for crowding. However you may need to consider welfare or safeguarding concerns should passengers not be able to travel if an absolute limit is imposed.

Improve your ventilation

Enhancing airflow by opening windows.

If there is a lack of natural ventilation, ensuring mechanical ventilation systems provide 100% fresh air and do not recirculate air from one space to another.

Making sure mechanical ventilation systems are effectively maintained and have been serviced.

Monitoring CO2 levels to identify areas where ventilation may be poor.

Keep your facilities clean

Thorough and regular cleaning using disinfectant in high footfall areas and in high contact touchpoints such as handles, seats and buttons.

Placing hand sanitisers at entry points and elsewhere at key touchpoints.

Providing automated soap dispensers, water and paper towels in washrooms.

Remember face coverings

Helping to ensure that people present comply with their legal obligation to wear a face covering.

Operators are encouraged where possible and practical to make a supply of face coverings available to passengers who may have inadvertently lost or forgotten to bring one.

Reduce the chance of coronavirus being present

Requiring staff to take a test before they start their shift / enter a vehicle.

Requiring staff to show that they have been vaccinated before they start their shift / enter a vehicle.

Informing passengers that anyone who is symptomatic, has tested positive, is awaiting a test result or has been advised to self-isolate by NHS Wales Test Trace Protect, must not enter vehicles.

The best way of preventing spread of coronavirus in any premises or during any activity is to reduce the risk of the virus being present in the first place.

Look after your staff

Implementing systems to minimise contacts between staff. For example, stagger staff shifts, break times and deliveries; set a maximum number for kitchens, staff rooms, changing rooms and areas such as smoking shelters.

Providing staff with face coverings/shields or other PPE.

Erecting screens to protect staff, for example at the entrance to a bus.

Facilitating (and not preventing) members of staff that have symptoms,  test positive or who have been identified as a close contact by Test Trace Protect (and are not exempt by way of age or vaccine status) from self-isolating. Self-isolating when a person has tested positive is required by law.

Under the new guidelines those staff who are double vaccinated and have been identified in close contact with someone testing positive for Covid will be able to undertake daily lateral flow test for 7 consecutive days, and if negative each day will be able to attend work. If staff are not vaccinated then they will be required to self isolate for the 10 day period. 

Public Transport operators / train operators are mandated to plan in a way to maximise social distancing – (e.g. maximise length of trains, and/or provide supplemental rail replacement services to provide more seats) and do all that they can to promote the need for passengers to socially distance on board. There will be circumstances where it may not be reasonable to maintain physical distancing, for example when undertaking certain types of safety critical work. The employer of safety critical workers must always undertake risk assessments, and where it is not practical to maintain physical distancing, employers should consider providing daily lateral flow tests for employees and provide appropriate PPE.

In the context of COVID-19 practical measures to reduce risk of transmission could include:

  • In every workplace, increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning including disinfection of high footfall areas or common touchpoints
  • Provide face coverings or face shields where employees will be required to work together at less than 2 metres distance, or engage with passengers in operating doors to allow the boarding or alighting from the Vehicle.
  • Provide Lateral Flow Tests for staff at the start of shifts or training periods where they will be required to interact in closer proximity than 2 metres.

Further mitigating actions could include:

  • Keeping the activity time where physical distancing cannot be maintained as short as practicably possible whilst still meeting operational requirements.
  • Using screens or barriers to separate people from each other
  • Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
  • Reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (so each person works with only a few others)
  • One-way systems
  • Automatic doors

Help Test, Trace, Protect

Understanding the role of the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect system has in monitoring and controlling the virus.

Keeping records of staff and, where feasible, passengers to support the NHS Wales TTP Service. 

Communicate

You have a legal obligation to provide information to those entering or working at the premises about how to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus. This includes, in particular, information to all those present about their risk of exposure to coronavirus identified in the risk assessment and the measures to be taken to minimise this risk.

This could include announcements, clear signage (e.g. signs, floor tape or paint) for limits on the number people present in a particular area or room, queuing systems and one way systems.

Links to other relevant guidance

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