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People at a bus stop on Dorset Street, Dublin.

Bus and rail union calls for compulsory face masks on public transport as restrictions ease

The NBRU has also called for temperature checks for all public transport workers.

THE NATIONAL BUS and Rail Union (NBRU) has called for the compulsory wearing of face masks on all public transport as Ireland begins to ease Covid-19 restrictions. 

As well as current cleaning and social distancing procedures on public transport, the NBRU has told the National Transport Authority that all commuters should wear face masks while travelling and that frontline transport workers should be temperature checked before starting their shift. 

“Whilst some elements of society will be able to cope with the relaxation of restrictions, public transport will encounter significant difficulties, not least due to the constraints associated with fleet capacity,” said NBRU General Secretary Dermot O’Leary, in a letter to NTA CEO Anne Graham. 

A road map for easing Covid-19 restrictions in Ireland over five phases was published on Friday. From today, people cocooning can leave their homes for brief exercise with the 2 kilometre restriction extended to 5 kilometres.

It’s anticipated that from 18 May outdoor workers will gradually return to work and that some outdoor retail outlets will reopen. 

The road map, however, is subject to change depending on public health advice. 

O’Leary said that – in addition to vetting personnel at airports – wearing facemasks on public transport and temperature checks for workers “will ensure that frontline transport workers will continue to have confidence towards providing vital public transport services.”

O’Leary said that any worker who is temperature checked and measures a high temperature should be tested immediately for Covid-19 and should be sent home without loss of earnings. 

As well as additional protective measures, including no-touch hand gel on all public transport, the union is also calling for the immediate reintroduction of Monday to Friday schedules with utilisation of all extra fleet to increase capacity and enable more effective social distancing.  

The NTA has been contacted for comment. 

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