North East bus face covering awareness week gets underway with 93% compliance rate

The North East’s bus operators, working with the local authorities, are continuing to highlight the importance of wearing a face covering on public transport by making this week ‘Face Covering Awareness Week’.

The campaign, which started on Monday, has included a series of adverts highlighting how wearing a face covering, and wearing it properly over the face and nose, not only helps protect them and fellow travellers on board, but also the people they return home to.

After a launch online and on buses yesterday, today random sampling of 671 bus passengers found that 93% were wearing a face covering and of those that were not, 70% had a valid exemption and were carrying an exemption card.

If customers do not have an exemption card already, they can be downloaded from operators’ and Nexus’ websites.

On Thursday (1st October), the region’s bus operators and local authorities will be carrying out further activities as part of a ‘Day of Action’ at local bus interchanges and busy places across the region, including Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Darlington.

Face covering marshals will be on hand to remind customers to wear face coverings and encourage any people that are exempt to download an exemption card that they can show when they board the bus.

As part of the week-long series of extra activities, bus operators have displayed more prominent notices and information posters on vehicles. Stagecoach have sponsored a local radio advert, Go North East has made disposable face masks available on all its buses and Arriva has even put some giant face mask graphics on the front of eight of its buses operating across the region.

NEbus chair, Martijn Gilbert, said: “These are our latest activities to help boost the compliance of people wearing face coverings on public transport

“Whilst compliance is generally already high, our face covering awareness week is all about improving this further, whilst educating people to make sure they’re wearing it properly, over the face and nose throughout their journey.

“We’re also focusing on young people, including reaching out to local schools and colleges to get the important message out, reminding people that wearing a face covering also helps protect the family members they return home to.

“Our face covering awareness week is a great collaborative effort from all the bus operators and transport authorities across our region to further step up work on this important public health matter, which is even more important now that we’re seeing rising infection rates here in the North East.”

Cllr Martin Gannon, chair of the Joint Transport Committee for North East England, added: “It could not be more important that everyone who uses public transport wears a face covering throughout their journey, unless they are exempt.

“This new campaign really gets that message across, and builds on the efforts by bus companies and Metro throughout this pandemic to create a covid-secure environment in which people can feel confident travelling.”

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