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Public transport restrictions ‘set to ease’ as people urged to return to work

Coronavirus | Published:

It comes after the latest easing of lockdown restrictions saw the return of village cricket, swimming pools and outdoor arts performances.

Coronavirus

Restrictions on using public transport are reportedly set to be eased as the Government urges people to return to work rather than stay at home.

Current guidance for England states that people should consider “all other forms of transport” before using trains, tubes, buses and trams.

But the Sunday Telegraph said ministers are preparing to ease restrictions to encourage people to return to work and help reboot the economy.

Face masks are compulsory on public transport, and Boris Johnson hinted on Friday that they could soon be made mandatory in shops as well.

He also said he wanted people to go back to work “if they can” – in a major shift from the Government’s policy of urging people to work from home where possible.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

The Prime Minister said: “I think everybody has sort of taken the ‘stay at home if you can’ – I think we should now say, well, ‘go back to work if you can’. Because I think it’s very important that people should try to lead their lives more normally.”

Transport operators have suffered major financial losses as the coronavirus restrictions dramatically drove down passenger numbers.

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The Government gave Transport for London a £1.6 billion package to continue running services after a collapse in revenue in May.

A Whitehall source told the Sunday Telegraph: “It is costing a great deal of money to run all these train services with so few people on them.

“Different departments are looking at ways to ease in the message of avoiding public transport. The best way to do this, and when, is currently under discussion.

“There is some debate about how best to get the message across that the Government wants to allow more people to travel.”

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The paper said the Department for Transport had begun discussions with transport operators about the best way to allow people to return to using public transport networks safely.

It comes after the latest easing of lockdown restrictions saw local cricket teams across England return to the field on Saturday, while swimmers were able to take a dip in outdoor pools for the first time since March.

Outdoor arts performances – including theatres, opera, dance and music – were also able to resume this weekend, with restricted audience numbers and social distancing rules in place.

Beauticians, tattooists and tanning salons will be allowed to reopen from Monday. Indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities are to reopen from July 25.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said another 148 people had died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Friday, bringing the total to 44,798.

The Government figures do not include all deaths involving Covid-19 across the UK, which are thought to have passed 55,000.

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