• Coronavirus/COVID-19: Guidance for Community Transport

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    • Coronavirus/COVID-19: Guidance for Community Transport

    As the Omicron variant of Covid-19 spreads across the UK, we know that Community Transport operators are determined to continue to connect people to their communities, in a safe and legal way. At CTA we recognise that this can be challenging in a landscape of rapid changes and differing regulations and guidance in different parts of the country. 

    From our regular conversations with CTA members, we know that there is still significant uncertainty for CT operators around things like mask wearing, testing, and social distancing, and that the safety and wellbeing of passengers, staff and volunteers is forefront of everyone’s minds.  

    As ever, local restrictions must be considered in the context of your own operation, staff, volunteers, and passengers, and consider your risk assessments, vaccination policy, and testing policy, so you can make a clear decision about what services you’re running and how you’re running them. Ultimately, it is up to you, in line with the restrictions where you are, to decide what measures you put in place to mitigate any risk

    What information are you looking for?

    At CTA, we’re here to help – below you can find the official guidance in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as other useful resources. As it has been throughout the pandemic, our Advice Service is also available for CTA members, so if there’s any information you need that we haven’t provided, or if you would like to talk through your organisation’s best course of action, please do get in touch with our team via  advice@ctauk.org.

    You can  can use the links below to jump to the specific information that you’re looking for.


    Where can I find the latest Government guidance?

    Click the links below to jump to the specific section:

    England        Wales

    Scotland        Northern Ireland

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    The Latest Guidance in England

    In England, the UK Government has enacted ‘Plan B’ in response to the risks of Covid-19 Omicron variant. Face coverings are required by law in most indoor settings, including transport hubs and on public transport. This includes buses, taxis and private hire vehicles.

    Wherever possible, employees should be supported to work from home; where this is not possible, employers (including those working alongside volunteers) should conduct a comprehensive risk assessment to identify and manage the hazards presented by the high levels of community transmission.

    The guidance from the Department for Transport is that operators in England must decide if they continue to insist on social distancing and intense cleaning regimes. In some areas, like London and Greater Manchester, local powers have decided to override this, actively continuing the requirement for certain measures.

    We recognise that this local, regional and national variance may cause some confusion when deciding what restrictions to maintain on your services.  As every operation is different, here are some things we think you should use to make your decision.

    Who should we be talking to?

    • Your passengers and staff will need to inform your policy on distancing and masks, as well as being informed of whatever you decide. 
    • Your local, country or parish council may have taken a specific stance that you need to follow 
    • If you deliver health, social care or educational transport, the institution may have a policy with which you need to comply 
    • Be aware of local levels of Coronavirus and factor this into your decision making. 
    • You can book time with one of our Development Officers via our Advice Service to talk through your specific circumstances 

    Masks and Face Coverings

    As face coverings are now compulsory on public transport, unless you are exempt, it may be worth buying some to keep on the vehicle in case passengers forget. Crucially, you should let passengers know ahead of time, where possible, what you expect as conditions of travel, either over the phone or with information at stops and on the doors of the vehicle.  This may reduce potential frustration for passengers not expecting to need a mask. 

    Social Distancing

    Whilst bringing your vehicles to full capacity is permissible, you should seriously consider passenger comfort levels, especially boarding and dismounting from the vehicle.  You might want to consider gradually increasing capacity over time, offering some distanced and some full capacity services reflecting quiet and peak times respectively. Please consider that the lack of nationwide clarity may be distressing for passengers and staff.  Keep messaging clear, concise and positive. You can download a poster from the Department for Transport here. 

    Useful Links from the UK Government

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    The Latest Guidance in Wales

    In response to the surge in cases brought on by the spread of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, Welsh Government have returned Wales to alert level 2. This means:

    • A maximum of 6 people can meet in public premises
    • All businesses and premises can open, excluding nightclubs.
    • People should still work from home wherever possible.
    • Face coverings will remain a legal requirement indoors, including inside hospitality premises and transport settings.
    • Fully vaccinated adults, under 18s and vaccine trial participants will not need to self-isolate if they are a close contact of someone with coronavirus.
    • 2 metre social distancing required in offices and public premises (this includes vehicles)

    Transport operators should plan services and vehicle capacity in a manner that will provide for the maximum opportunities to facilitate social distancing, including things like limiting passenger numbers or adding additional vehicles for busy routes. If maintaining 2 metre social distancing in all cases would make operations unviable, then operators could feasibly go below 2 metres, but only so long as other reasonable mitigations are put in place to prevent transmission.

    In determining whether it is reasonable or practicable to take a particular measure to maintain a distance of 2 metres, you will need to consider the other adjustments already in place, e.g. ventilation, face coverings, hand hygiene, and enhanced cleaning measures, which will have been identified through your risk assessment process. If these additional mitigations do not sufficiently reduce the risk of transmission, this suggests that physical distancing would still be required.


    The Latest Guidance in Scotland 

    With new variants and the pandemic constantly evolving, it is important to continue consulting the guidance as it updates and review your risk assessments accordingly. 

    This page summarises a lot of the guidance from Scottish Government and, although there is not a specific section on community transport, several pieces of guidance may apply to you depending on your operation: www.gov.scot/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance 

    Face Coverings

    The Scottish Government has confirmed that ‘face coverings must be worn in indoor public places and on public transport,’ meaning that the requirement to wear face coverings on all transport services remains in place. Community transport operators should continue to ensure that volunteers, drivers, and passengers wear face coverings unless they are medically exempt. 

    Although this decision will be reviewed periodically, the First Minister has expressed that she expects the mandatory wearing of face coverings to remain in place for the foreseeable future. 

    Social Distancing

    Latest guidance indicates that ‘businesses, service providers and places of worship [are] asked to take all reasonable measures to avoid crowding, encourage wearing of masks and support distancing in their premises’ and ‘reinforcement of protective measures in retail and other settings including distancing, managing customer flows, and protective screens’ is required. 

    We know that most operators in Scotland had retained social distancing measures, and we advise you to keep updating your risk assessments to follow the evolution of the pandemic and associated guidance. 

    Mitigation Measures

    The Scottish Government has also reaffirmed the importance of rigorous hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing and surface cleaning, while stressing the importance of ventilation in indoor or enclosed spaces. 

    We therefore advise that community transport operators continue to refer to their risk assessments to ensure that you minimise risks for your staff, volunteers, drivers, and passengers and implement any necessary mitigation measures. 

    Car Sharing

    Guidance still states that ‘you should not share a vehicle with anyone from another household, unless you absolutely have to.’ 

    If you need to share a private vehicle or car with anyone from another household, you should take the following precautionary measures: 

    • Limit the number of people in the vehicle to as few as possible, ideally no more than 2 (applies to adults and children aged 12 and over) 
    • Use the biggest vehicle available for car sharing purposes 
    • Windows in the car should be opened as far as possible taking account of weather conditions to improve ventilation in the space. 
    • Occupants in the car, including the driver, should wear a face covering provided it does not compromise driver safety in any way 
    • Occupants should perform hand hygiene before entering the vehicle and again on leaving the vehicle 
    • Occupants should avoid eating in the vehicle 
    • Passengers in the vehicle should minimise any surfaces touched 
    • Keep the volume of any music/radio to a minimum to prevent the need to raise voices in the car 
    • The longer the journey, the higher the risk; keep journey times to the minimum feasible and do not linger in the vehicle before or after the journey itself 
    • Where non-household members are car-sharing, the car must be cleaned regularly (at least daily) and particular attention should be paid to high risk touch points such as door handles, electronic buttons and seat belts. General purpose detergent is sufficient unless a symptomatic or confirmed case of COVID-19 has been in the vehicle in which case a disinfectant (e.g. chlorine-based product) should be used 

    Useful Links from the Scottish Government

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    The Latest Guidance in Northern Ireland 

    Following an increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, additional restrictions have been introduced for people in Northern Ireland. These new restrictions are in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

    Social Distancing 

    Guidance published by the Northern Ireland Executive states that when using public transport, one metre should be maintained, unless not possible, in which case other mitigations must be in place. These mitigations include properly ventilating vehicles, the regular cleaning and disinfecting of vehicles, and hygiene measures such as hand washing. 

    Face Coverings

    The current guidance from the NI Executive still states that ‘the use of face coverings is mandatory on public transport, in taxis, private buses, coaches and on aircraft, in train and bus stations and in airports unless an exemption applies.

    If a person does not wear a face covering on public transport without an exemption or reasonable excuse, they are in breach of the law. Where a passenger is not wearing a face covering, operators and staff should in the first instance remind passengers of their legal obligation to wear one. In doing so they are expected to be sensitive in their dealings with passengers, as many illnesses or disabilities are hidden. During the grace period, there is no obligation on a passenger to provide proof of their exemption. If a passenger states that they are exempt and not required to wear one, staff should accept this explanation and not question or challenge the passenger further. When we have further updates on the time period of this grace period we will update our guidance accordingly.

    Community Transport operators must therefore continue to ensure that passengers, drivers, and passenger assistants continue to wear face coverings on vehicles. The requirement to wear face coverings will likely stay in place for the foreseeable future.

    Car Sharing

    he current public health advice is that everyone should:

    • work from home if they can

    and

    • limit contact with other people

    Much of the advice for anyone using public transport also applies to anyone who must continue car sharing at this time: 

    • wear a face covering to protect others, unless exempt from the law and/ or have a reasonable excuse 
    • avoid physical contact 
    • try to face away from other people 
    • keep the time spent near others as short as possible 
    • If car sharing, as well as wearing a face covering, good ventilation in the car will be useful – particularly by keeping a window open. 
    • Contact areas such as door handles (inside and out), seat belts and so on should be cleaned or sanitised after each journey. 

    It is recommended that: 

    • any sharing is with the same people each time 

    and 

    • people in the vehicle keep as much social distance as possible 

    More information on car sharing in NI can be found here.

    Risk Assessments 

    As ever, it is important to factor a clear and comprehensive risk assessment into any decision making process. You can find CTA’s resources on risk assessment and risk management by clicking here.

    If you need any help or support you can always contact the CTA Advice Service via advice@ctauk.org.

    Useful Information from the NI Executive

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    Other Resources and Guidance


    Vaccinations

    With the COVID-19 vaccination programme now fully rolled out across the country, many community transport providers are getting involved with making sure that members of their community can access both doses of the vaccine and boosters. There are also questions about volunteers and members of staff getting vaccinated, as well as what implications passenger numbers have on vehicle capacity. 

    For all our guidance on vaccinations, click here.

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    Risk Assessment and Risk Management

    When you make any decision about the coronavirus mitigation measures you’re putting in place on your services it’s important to make sure that you have a comprehensive risk assessment in place. With the support of CTA members from across the UK, CTA have produced community transport specific templates and resources relating to COVID-19 risk assessments which CTA members can download from ctauk.org/advice-resources/risk-assessment-and-management.

    If you’re not a CTA member, you can still download our ‘How To’ guide for risk assessments, as well as a COVID-19 specific risk assessment template below.

    Download our risk assessment ‘how to’ guide here

    Download our COVID-19 specific risk assessment template here

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    Restarting Services

    The COVID-19 pandemic has posed significant challenges for all community transport providers. While some have been able to adapt their services to the changing landscape, many have had to scale back their services or even shut altogether. We’ve put together a checklist intended for community transport operators that are restarting their services or have recently done so.

    Download our restarting your services checklist here.

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    Funding Resources

    Funding is more important than ever for community transport providers as we continue to recover from Covid-19 and restart services. This page contains links to a number of different sources of funding and information. Given the uncertain situation that we are still in, many funders are continuing to adapt their priorities and funding programmes to respond to the emerging needs of communities. Before committing your time and effort to apply to a particular fund, you will need to carefully check the eligibility criteria, funding aims and if there are any deadlines.

    Go to our information on funding resources

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    The CTA Advice Service

    CTA Advice Service: The CTA team are currently working remotely, so to ensure you speak to the right person first time, please email advice@ctauk.org to receive a call back for advice and support. Our advice service operates 10-4pm Monday-Friday.

    Advice Service Drop-in: every Friday, the CTA advice team hold an online drop-in session for members to talk to us, and each other, about their ideas, concerns and questions. It’s a great way to get to know the CTA team and your fellow community transport providers – so if you’d like to book onto the next meeting, you can book your place at ctauk.org/events, or email advice@ctauk.org, and we’ll send you a link.

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