Interesting article in for Bus and Coach Operators:

The Cabinet will consider a proposal later today to make the wearing of a face covering compulsory on all forms of public transport.

Under the memo to be brought by Minister for Transport Shane Ross, the two-metre physical distancing rule would no longer apply and, in tandem, capacity on buses, trains and trams could be increased to 50%.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Ross said the measure would allow increased capacity on buses and trains as more people return to work.

He said that at the moment there are just 12 people allowed on double decker buses and that will soon affect capacity, so the plan is to increase capacity on buses and trains to 50%.

He said “to counter that and to protect people’s health” those travelling must wear a facemask.

He could not confirm if facemasks would be offered for free to the travelling public but said they may be sold cheaply.

Under 13s and those with health reasons for not wearing a facemask will be exempt.

He said that a communications campaign about safe wearing of masks on public transport will get underway shortly.

Mr Ross said he hoped the measure would be welcomed and is supported by the transport worker union the NBRU.

He said he expects the measure to come into force in the next few weeks.

Fianna Fáil’s Marc MacSharry has said he would welcome such a plan if it was clear what special arrangements would apply to young children or those unable to use coverings for health reasons.

Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly said before such a plan could be rolled-out, there would need to be a detailed public information campaign, as well as a guaranteed supply of affordable Irish-made coverings.

Under the memo, the two-metre physical distancing rule would no longer apply
The Cabinet will not decide today what approved EU member states Irish holidaymakers may travel to in the coming weeks, and thereby avoid the requirement of a two-week quarantine when they return home.

Mr Ross said discussions on safe travel to “air-bridge” countries is being examined but no countries have been nominated yet.

Call for clarity over health protocols on school buses

Private school transport operators have said consideration should be given to children wearing masks while travelling to school to increase capacity on school buses.

A report for the Couch Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland also said private coach operators, who provide 87% of the fleet used for school transport, urgently need clarity on what social-distancing and health protocols will apply in September.

It says the private owners of an estimated 4,500 vehicles that provide the service have “huge concerns” about whether children or teachers will be allowed use private coaches for services like trips to swimming and matches, day trips and other school excursions.

The report, by economist Jim Power, suggests that in order to increase capacity on school buses, the Department of Education could consider a recommendation on the wearing of face masks.

The group also says that the loss of an estimated 120,000 language students who travel from Spain and Italy and the Gaeltacht service is a huge blow to large and small coach operators in every county in Ireland.

It says day trips, weekends away and airport transfers are an integral part of the summer season for many school bus and private hire operators.

In a statement Bus Éireann, who sub contract school bus services to private operators, said it and the Department of Education and Skills are “engaging intensively on the logistical considerations that arise from public health advice in planning for the reopening of schools for the 2020/2021 academic year.

“The operation of school transport services in September 2020 will be informed by the outcome of this planning for reopening schools.”

Bus Éireann operates the School Transport scheme on behalf of the department and carries more than 120,000 children to and from schools on a daily basis on over 7,000 dedicated school transport routes.


Additional reporting Samantha Libreri, Fergal Bowers

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