Covid-19 (Transport)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 26th May 2020.

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Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

I will try to deal in turn with the points that Colin Smyth has raised.

The expectation is that, if a person is travelling on public transport, they should have a face covering. However, that is not appropriate and not necessary on some modes of transport. The expectation has been set out clearly in the guidance. If someone does not have a pre-existing medical condition that suggests that they should not have a face covering, and if they are travelling on a mode of transport other than a ferry, they should have a face covering. That is a matter of courtesy not only to other travellers but to those working in the transport sector.

On PPE, the member will recognise that the hierarchy that I mentioned is not specific to the transport sector. The need to ensure that employers have mitigation measures in place to minimise the risk of the 2m rule being compromised is also required in the construction sector guidance. Where a risk is identified that that could occur, employers should look at what appropriate PPE measures should be put in place. That is exactly why the guidance sets out in detail the need for operators to apply an assessment process to identify any risk. As I mentioned to Dean Lockhart, the feedback that we have had from transport providers is that, if after conducting an assessment process they consider that PPE might be required, they have sufficient stock and supply chains in place to address that.

I am sure that the member will recognise that a system as complex as our public transport system will, by its very nature and design, inevitably have pinch points where the 2m rule will be compromised. We are responding in a proportionate and measured way to try to minimise the risks of that happening. Rather than announce on a Sunday night that things will go back to normal on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, we are giving due notice about the timescale in which we will take forward our plans to allow transport operators, employers and the public to plan. Everyone—politicians, the public, employers and leaders in our communities—has a part to play in getting across the message that, when using public transport while it is constrained, we need to avoid making unnecessary journeys and comply with the guidance that has been issued.