• Coronavirus/COVID-19: Guidance for Community Transport

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    • Coronavirus/COVID-19: Guidance for Community Transport

    Last updated on 19 July 2021

    As we continue to emerge from coronavirus restrictions across the UK, the relaxing, and in some cases removing, of the rules and regulations that we’ve been following since March 2020 mean that community transport operators can continue what, for many, has been a gradual process of returning to their traditional services and reconnecting the people they support with their communities. For others, it could mean returning to the road and restarting services that haven’t been running because of the restrictions. 

    We understand though, that there is still significant uncertainty when it comes to running transport services around things like mask wearing and social distancing, and how, or if, community transport operators should continue to incorporate them into their services, 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 risk assessments, vaccination 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

    As of Monday 19th July, the vast majority of coronavirus restrictions have been lifted in England. Venues may return to full hours and full capacity – so restrictions on where and when you can take people on journeys no longer apply.  There is, however, ongoing ambiguity around what the lifting of restrictions means for transport operators and passengers. 

    The official position of the Department for Transport is that operators must decide if they continue to insist on mask wearing, 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

    If you decide that you do expect mask or face covering wearing on board, it’s maybe 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 could download a poster from the Department for Transport here. 

    Risk Assessments

    As ever, it is important to factor a clear and comprehensive risk assessment into your 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 Links from the UK Government

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    The Latest Guidance in Wales

    The Welsh government have laid out a timeline for the lifting of coronavirus restrictions across Wales, however these don’t specifically mention community transport. As such, we advocate that operators take a sensible and safe approach and are advising that you rely on your risk assessments to ensure that you are being as safe as possible, particularly if you are working with vulnerable groups, both for the passengers’ wellbeing and that of your staff/volunteers. Despite the changes to restrictions, there are still rising cases in many parts of the country, so community transport providers will need to stay vigilant and keep referring back to their risk assessments. You can find CTA’s resources on risk assessment and risk management by clicking here.

    Additionally, while there may no longer be a legal requirement to social distance, you may very well decide to keep doing so, depending on the type of vehicle, the passengers, and their vulnerability levels. Again, this really does depend on the risks you’ve identified previously.

    Timeline for Wales:

    17th July: move to Level 1

    Level 1 and first steps towards Level 0 (e.g. number of people who can meet in public places or at events will be removed) came into place on 17 July. This means that face masks, risks assessments and social distancing (2m, if commercially unviable but it can be less with reasonable mitigations and risks assessments) are still in place. You can find guidance from the Welsh Government for taxi and private hire vehicles, which may be useful, here as well as guidance for restarting public transport here.

    7th August: move to Level 0.

    Under Level 0, all premises would be able to open and most – but not all – restrictions (including indoors social distancing measures) will be removed and replaced with the ongoing requirement for all organisations and businesses to carry out COVID-19 risk assessments. These will determine what reasonable measures are needed to be put in place to keep workers and customers and visitors safe.

    There will also be no legal limits on the number of people who can meet others indoors, including in private homes, and face coverings will continue to be required by law in most indoor public places and on public transport at alert level zero from 7 August, with the exception of hospitality settings.

    If, on 07 August, Wales does go into alert level zero, the Welsh Government has said that “the reasonable measures to be taken, such as physical distancing and other controls, will be for each organisation to consider depending on the nature of the premises and the risks of exposure to coronavirus identified”.

    This means that responsibility in terms of social distancing measures will heavily lie on operators, which means that you should update your risks assessments to reflect any change in terms of capacity, and consult passengers and staff when deciding on these changes. It is important that, as much as possible, everyone feels comfortable with the changes that will be put in place. Social distancing can be determined based on your risks assessments (capacity, ventilation…) and mitigating measures. However, as stated above, face coverings will remain mandatory.

    Useful Links from the Welsh Government

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    The Latest Guidance in Scotland 

    As of Monday 19th July, all of Scotland has entered the lowest level, Tier Zero, of restrictions. At Tier Zero, various precautions remain in place:

    Masks

    In Scotland, the requirement to wear face coverings on transport remains in place. This means that community transport operators should continue to ensure that volunteers, drivers, and passengers wear face coverings unless they are medically exempt.

    Social Distancing

    Regarding social distancing on passenger transport, the advice from Transport Scotland is still that passengers should maintain a distance of at least one metre, a distance which “should be accompanied by additional mitigation measures, such as, but not limited to, screens, reinforced cleaning procedures and good ventilation.”

    Car Sharing

    Transport Scotland’s advice on car sharing srill states that “you should not share a vehicle with anyone from another household, unless you absolutely have to.” If this is the case, Transport Scotland has outlined the following mitigation measures and precautions:

    • if sharing a vehicle with anyone from another household, 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
    • occupants should sit as far apart as possible, ideally the passenger should sit in the back seat diagonally opposite the driver, aiming for 2 metre distancing between occupants
    • 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

    You can find more information on car sharing in Scotland here.

    The next review date for Coronavirus Measures is August 9th, 2021.

    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 Links from the Scottish Government

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    The Latest Guidance in Northern Ireland 

    The Northern Ireland Executive have laid out a timeline for the lifting of restrictions – with 26 July being the date that the current guidance could be relaxed. A decision on this will be made on 22 July.

    Social Distancing 

    From 26 July, the plan is to “reduce the legal requirement for social distancing where relevant to a minimum of one metre indoors and remove the requirement for all outdoor activities and public transport.

    Where possible, you should continue to maintain two metres between people. Where two metres is not viable, one metre should be maintained with other risk mitigations in place. Risk mitigations should be detailed in risk assessments.

    On public transport, one metre should be maintained unless not possible, in which case other mitigations must be in place.”

    Face Coverings

    The current guidance from the NI Executive 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.”

    In a statement on 08 July they also said that “any measures not outlined in these relaxations, such as the requirement for face coverings in other settings, the requirement for self-isolation and travel will be considered in more detail at [a] meeting on 12 August” suggesting that face coverings will still be mandatory from 26 July but that this could change in the future.

    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 being rolled out, many community transport providers are getting involved with making sure that members of their community can access the vaccine. 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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