Though the government have encouraged workers where possible to walk, cycle or drive to work that hasn’t been practically possible for some resulting in crowded buses and trains.
Scenes of buses and trains in towns and cities around the country led to one union leader describing social distancing on public transport as “impossible” and commuting itself “fraught with danger”.
RMT Union General Secretary Mick Cash said: “This incident shows just how fraught with danger the government’s return to work call is for our transport services in the midst of this pandemic.
“One incident and we are reduced to crisis management with reports that social distancing is impossible with Tube carriages rammed.”
There are some steps that can be taken to ensure that a bus or train journey is safer during the UK’s coronavirus epidemic.
Do you need to travel?
First it is important to establish whether you absolutely need to use public transport.
If you are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms, or live with someone exhibiting coronavirus symptoms you should stay at home and contact your employer.
If you can work from home, you should. If you are part of the group which the government says should shield, then you should ask your employer if you can be redeployed to a role that would allow you to work at home.
Grant Shapps underlined the need to avoid public transport if possible, insisting that workers walk, drive or cycle if they must go into work, but of course this isn’t always possible.
What can I do to make public transport safer for me and others?
Before travelling, visit the website of your local transport provider to see if buses are running at full capacity and studying any advice that they have in place for commuters.
Where possible plan a route that is likely to be quieter, or to involves less, if any, changes, even if this means walking a section of your usual route.
Avoid train or bus stations that are known to be busy
Travel during off-peak times to improve social distancing on public transport. It's worth discussing with your employer whether you can shift your working hours in order to allow this.
Book your transport online or use contactless payments in order to reduce contact with others.
When waiting to board allow passengers to get off first before you board and be prepared to queue or take a different entrance or exit at stations.
Once on board a bus or train it may not be possible to keep a distance of two metres between yourself and other passengers. In this circumstance avoid physical contact. Avoid touching surfaces and your face during your commute.
Should I wear a face covering?
Although commuters in the UK are not legally obliged to wear a face covering, it can be used as an effective means of reduciing transmission of coronavirus.
Government advice on face coverings reads as follows: “There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas.
“A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment. These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings, like those exposed to dust hazards.”
If you are travelling with a child under 2 years old, they are advised not to wear a face mask.