United Kingdom

Study finds no covid traces on trains – are face masks mandatory on public transport?

Freedom Day saw covid safety measures coming to an end in England. The legal requirement to wear masks on public transport has been lifted but many transport providers are continuing to ask customers to wear them on their services.

Researchers from Imperial College London carried out tests at stations and on busy trains to try and identify any covid particles present.

Their research found no traces of the virus.

Tests carried out at four railway stations in England and on the trains running between them found no traces of the virus.

Swabs were taken from areas regularly touched by passengers and the air was also analysed.

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Network Rail says it has been thoroughly cleaning trains and stations throughout the pandemic

David Green a senior researcher at Imperial College London who undertook the research said they used a filter to collect any virus particles in the air.

He added swabs were also used to collect any particles that might have lingered on surfaces.

He said further studies were being carried out on Public Transport “in the hope that people could return to normal life as safely as possible.”

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“If you do not, and you are not exempt, you could be refused entry, denied travel or told to leave our stations and services.”

The Rail Delivery Group which represents all UK train and tram operators have said: “Rail travel is low-risk” as they say most trains are “well ventilated by air conditioning systems or by doors and windows.”

But some scientists have said removing the requirement to wear masks on trains is irresponsible as it would lead to higher infections.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul told Radio 4’s Today programme: “We believe that it makes no sense to stop wearing face masks amongst the public in closed public settings such as public transport.

“We know that face masks are proven to reduce the spread of this infection if worn by everyone around you, including yourself.

Other experts mirrored Dr Nagpaul’s calls for the continuation of mask-wearing on public transport.

Professor Stephen Reicher, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (Spi-B) which advises the Government said: “I think in certain spaces – crowded, badly ventilated spaces – masks are crucial mitigation.”

Despite concerns by scientists the Government has made it clear masks remain a personal choice rather than a mandatory requirement.


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