Nbus drivers will be encouraging people to use face coverings while travelling on public transport. Photo: Matt McCrorie.

Masks now required for public transport

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Bus drivers in Nelson are now encouraging passengers to wear face coverings as the Government mandated their use on public transport across the country.

The Government announced the mandate last week that under Alert Level 2 or above, passengers on public buses, trains, planes, and ferries, over the age of 12, are required to wear a mask or face covering.

However, Nbus says that while drivers will be encouraging their use, they won’t be enforcing it. The company says that it is up to passengers to keep themselves and others safe by wearing a face covering.

Those who break the rule can face a $300 infringement notice or a fine of up to a $1000 imposed by the courts.

Nelson City Council group manager infrastructure, Alec Louverdis, who manages Nbus, says wearing a face covering or mask is one of the key ways, alongside physical distancing, good hand hygiene and contact tracing, to stop the spread of Covid-19.

“We always knew that another outbreak was possible, and we are well equipped to deal with it,” he says.

“By wearing face coverings where it is difficult to physically distance, and taking part in thorough contact tracing, we can make sure Covid-19’s time on our shores is once again limited.”

Nelson City Council’s chair of infrastructure, Brian McGurk, says that masks will assist in managing the virus.

“Essentially this is just following medical advice, it’s a health response that will keep drivers and passengers safe.

“It can be difficult to maintain distance on public transport, and it’s important to keep the drivers safe in their workplace. If you’ve forgotten, you can use a scarf or anything just to cover the face.”

Tasman regional transport committee chair Stuart Bryant says that council would like to see residents following the new Government mandate.

“Now it’s a government directive we are obliged to wear masks on public transport, and we’d like to see people in this region follow that as much as possible.”

He says he is hoping that residents will respect the directive.

“I’m hoping that people will get on board with it, especially for the safety of the bus drivers. It’s for the community benefit.”

Passengers in smaller vehicles, such as taxis, do not have to wear face coverings, but drivers do. Nelson’s public transport services have been displaying the NZ COVID Tracer app QR codes since Alert Level 2 began, and this will become mandatory from tomorrow.

Registered Bee cards can also be used for contact tracing, when users tag on and tag off.