To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of (a) trends in the use and (b) the effectiveness of (i) Stagecoach and (ii) other operator Journey Assistance Cards in (A) helping people who are exempt from wearing face coverings during the covid-19 outbreak and (B) making it clear to the public that the non-wearing of face coverings should not take place without adequate reason.
Our guidance sets out exemptions to mandatory face covering, including for health and disability reasons (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-transport-guidance-for-operators/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-transport-guidance-for-operators). We are working with operators to include these in their communications, and have been clear that operators should continue to assist disabled passengers as they did before the pandemic.
There are a range of assistance cards provided to disabled people independently of Government. We do not have data to assess the trends and the effectiveness of these cards. Assistance cards can be used to help passengers identify themselves, but we are clear that passengers should not have to routinely 'prove' their exemption when challenged by transport operators.
The Department is working closely with transport operators, including Stagecoach, to understand their policies and procedures around mandatory face coverings and exemptions, and how these are working in practice.