AS almost all lockdown restrictions - including the mandatory use of face coverings - have been lifted, bus companies across the region have clarified the rules.

Go North East, Arriva North East and Stagecoach have all explained whether they will still require passengers to wear a covering beyond 'Freedom Day.'

It comes as the Government earlier this month revealed it would be up to individual transport operators to decide on whether they will require their use beyond July 19.

Read more: Government criticised over face covering guidance beyond July 19

At the time, transport secretary Grant Shapps said he would support an operator's decision to make coverings mandatory, saying he'd wear one on public transport.


But in the North East, bus operators have said they still "expect" their customers to wear a face covering, as some have said they will no longer be restrictions on capacity.

Go North East

The firm, which operates services across Tyne & Wear, County Durham and Teesside, said that it was following guidance from the Government.

In a statement, they said: "The UK Government’s decision to proceed with step 4 of its Covid-19 roadmap means face coverings and social distancing will no longer be required in England from 19 July.

"Regulations requiring face coverings will be removed and government now “expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.”

"As a result, there will be no restrictions on capacity but we expect people to think of others and still wear a face covering on board, if they can, in line with government guidance."

The firm added that it is continuing with its "extensive" cleaning regimes to ensure that buses are clean and safe. It added that passengers should still leave windows open to assist ventilation.

Arriva North East

Arriva, which mainly operates services across County Durham, Darlington and Teesside, echoed the Government guidance. 

In a statement to passengers, it said: "As lockdown restrictions are lifted and more people travel with us, we are here to support our local communities. If you travel with us, please travel safely:

"Following government guidance, from July 19, it is expected that passengers wear a face covering in busy spaces. Please travel with consideration for others."

It added that customers should still pay by contactless or use app where they can, and pay the exact fare where possible if paying by cash."

Stagecoach North East

Stagecoach, which operates services across Tyne & Wear and Teesside, added: "We are continuing to follow government advice, as we have done throughout the pandemic.

"Face coverings are no longer mandatory in England, and in line with the latest government advice, we are expecting people continue to wear them, where they can, on public transport journeys."

What the industry has said

The Confederation of Passenger Transport, which represents the bus and coach sector across the UK, said that as an industry it won't be mandating the use of coverings.

The CPT said that as a result, they expect passengers to wear a covering where they can - although this will not be legally enforced.

They said: “Operators will expect people to think of others and wear a face covering on board, if they can, in line with government guidance. We expect many passengers will do so as they will in other busy public spaces.

​“Operators are continuing to do everything we can to ensure people can travel with confidence.

"This includes delivering enhanced cleaning regimes, ensuring buses are well ventilated and providing tools such as apps to allow customers to see how busy their bus is and help plan their journey in advance.”


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