Safer transport guidance for operators: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Safer transport guidance for operators: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Safer working principles and risk assessment for transport operators and organisations.


Applies to: England (see publications for WalesScotland, and Northern Ireland)



This guide will help transport organisations in England understand how to provide safer workplaces and services for themselves, their workers and passengers. It outlines measures to assess and address the risks of coronavirus (COVID-19).

There’s different guidance for Northern IrelandScotland and Wales.

Each organisation will need to translate the principles and examples in this guidance into specific actions. Transport providers should remain mindful of their obligations under health and safety, equalities and employment legislation. Transport providers should try to co-ordinate their planning and actions with other providers.

Operators should consider this guidance alongside the general advice to the public on staying safe and alert.


DfT and HSE letter

A letter from the Department for Transport and the Health and Safety Executive about access to toilet and washing facilities for drivers making deliveries.

Driver access to toilet and washing facilities - a letter from Department for Transport and HSE

PDF, 85.4KB, 1 page

Guidance for employers - infographic

PDF, 120KB, 1 page

Risk assessment


Use this guidance to create a risk assessment that will:

  • identify the risks arising from coronavirus
  • inform the decisions and control measures that you need to put in place


You should review your risk assessment regularly to ensure it remains relevant and appropriate.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) also has guidance on how a coronavirus risk assessment can be undertaken.

All existing non-coronavirus related health and safety requirements continue to apply. For example, where personal protective equipment (PPE) is used to protect against non-coronavirus risks, it should continue to be used. The Health and Safety Executive and other transport regulators can help you comply with health and safety legislation.

You have a duty to consult employees on health and safety. Workers should be involved in assessing workplace risks and the development and review of workplace health and safety policies in partnership. You should encourage employees to identify, speak up and provide feedback on risks and control measures.

To support workers in high risk groups, you should discuss any concerns individuals may have around their particular circumstances and reassure them about the protective measures in place.

According to Public Health England (PHE), high risk groups include those who:

  • are older males
  • have a high body mass index (BMI)
  • have health conditions such as diabetes
  • are from some black, Asian or minority ethnicity (BAME) backgrounds


Further detail on how to protect vulnerable workers is available from the Health and Safety Executive.

Your risk assessment is expected, where possible, to enable social distancing of 2 metres or 1 metre with risk mitigations (where 2 metres is not viable). You should consider and set out the mitigations you already have in place or will introduce, in your risk assessment. Some potential mitigations are provided in this guidance.


Consider the following when conducting a coronavirus risk assessment:

  • risks to workers, passengers, customers and the public, along with the control measures required
  • the impact of control measures and whether they result in additional, different risks or non-compliance with other requirements (for example health and safety or equalities legislation)
  • consultation with workers, or bodies representing workers, and the public
  • the visibility of the results of any risk assessment

Local COVID alert levels


There is now a system of local COVID alert levels in England. The public are advised to comply with the additional restrictions which apply in areas that are part of a medium (tier 1)high (tier 2) or very high (tier 3) local COVID alert level.

Transport operators providing services through or within these areas should continue operating services as normal. You should review risk assessments regularly to ensure they remain relevant and appropriate.


The rules for local COVID alert levels are different in the other UK nations:

Accessible transport


You need to consider accessibility at every stage of the passenger journey. Passenger assistance should be a normal part of the offering that passengers can request at the point of need. Service providers have duties to ensure individuals with protected characteristics, for example disabled people, the elderly and pregnant women, are able to access transport networks. Everyone should be supported to access transport and comply with social distancing.

All equality and discrimination law continues to apply. All disability rights continue to apply to trains, buses, coaches, taxis, ferries, airports and airlines, and all staff and contractors have duties to ensure that those with protected characteristics, for example disabled people, the elderly and pregnant women, are able to access services.

You need to ensure that the actions taken as a result of the risk assessment do not disproportionately impact those with protected characteristics. You must provide staff with disability, equality and awareness training in line with DfT’s inclusive transport strategy.

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Who should be at work


To help contain the virus, office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter. Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so.


For employees working from home, you could consider:

  • monitoring the wellbeing of people working from home and how to help them stay connected
  • keeping in touch with off-site workers on their working arrangements including their welfare, mental and physical health and personal security
  • providing equipment to enable working from home safely and effectively, for example, remote access to work systems
  • regularly reviewing how different working arrangements are impacting workers, and how to improve the arrangements
  • letting workers know in advance if they are required to travel or not
  • whether support workers are needed to make their networks accessible (for example to operate ramps or lifts) and consider categorising these workers as ‘essential’


Anyone who cannot work from home should go to their place of work. Employers should consult with their workers to determine how they can come into the workplace safely taking account of a person’s journey, childcare responsibilities, protected characteristics, and other individual circumstances. It is vital workers are engaged to ensure they feel safe at the place of work. The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 secure guidelines are followed closely - employers should avoid forcing anyone into a workplace location where safety concerns remain. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

Where it is necessary for workers to go to work, businesses should consider the impact on local transport, and take appropriate mitigating actions. This may include, for example, staggering start and finish times for staff. This will need to be reflected in the COVID-19 risk assessment and actions taken to manage the risks of transmission in line with this guidance.


If it is necessary for employees to work from the place of work, you should consider:

  • who is essential to be on site
  • the minimum number of people needed in vehicles or on site to operate safely and efficiently


Protecting people who are at higher risk


Consider the guidance on clinically extremely vulnerable and clinically vulnerable people at work.

Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals can go to work, as long as the workplace is COVID-secure, but should carry on working from home wherever possible. Consideration should also be given to people who live with clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.

If extremely clinically vulnerable individuals cannot work from home, they should be offered the option of the safest available on-site roles, enabling them to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).

They and their employer should consider the level of risk, both on their journey to work and in line with the wider risk assessment of their working situation, as set out in the guidance for employers. It may not be appropriate for clinically extremely vulnerable individuals to take up an alternative role or adjusted working patterns temporarily.

As for any workplace risk you must take into account specific duties to those with protected characteristics, including, for example, expectant mothers who are, as always, entitled to suspension on full pay if suitable roles cannot be found.

Consider emerging evidence which shows some people with particular characteristics related to age, gender, underlying health conditions, deprivation, occupation and ethnicity, may be at comparatively increased risk from COVID-19.

Consider providing support for workers around mental health and wellbeing. This could include guidance or telephone support for example.


People who need to self-isolate


Workers who have symptoms of coronavirus, however mild, should self-isolate for at least 10 days from when their symptoms started. If workers are not experiencing symptoms but have tested positive for coronavirus they should self-isolate for at least 10 days starting from the day the test was taken.

If workers have tested positive whilst not experiencing symptoms but develop symptoms during their isolation period, they should restart the 10 day isolation period from the day they develop symptoms.

Workers living in a household or support bubble with someone showing symptoms of coronavirus should stay at home and not leave their house for 14 days.


As an employer, you should:


There is currently no requirement for a worker to self-isolate if they have been in proximity with someone showing coronavirus symptoms in the workplace and have been following social distancing measures and have not been classified as a close contact by Public Health England (PHE) through the test and trace service.

Workers who may have had contact with a colleague who has been diagnosed with coronavirus may be contacted as part of the test and trace service and in such cases would need to self-isolate if directed to do so.

Social distancing


Passengers and people working on the transport network should maintain 2 metres distance from people outside their household or support bubble, where possible, because the risk of transmission is small at this distance.

If passengers and people working on the transport network cannot keep a 2 metre distance, they can reduce the risk of transmission by maintaining a 1 metre distance where possible, and taking suitable mitigations.

You should consider and set out the mitigations you already have in place or will introduce, in your risk assessment.

Operators should advise staff and passengers on ways to keep their distance from other people as much as possible. There are situations where this may not be possible, for example when boarding or alighting, during security checks, on busier services, busier times of day, when walking through interchanges and when undertaking maintenance work that requires 2 people for the task.


Where the social distancing guidelines cannot reliably be followed in full, you should consider the following mitigating actions:

  • creating and agreeing a single, clear approach to social distancing for all workers and passengers, where possible
  • agreeing and maintaining clear rules for workers and passengers that meet social distancing guidelines
  • clear rules for interacting with passengers, receiving goods, and testing equipment
  • reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using fixed teams, partnering or cohorting (so each person works with only a few others)
  • keeping cohorts as small as possible
  • using face coverings in situations where social distancing is not possible
  • organising the workspace and how people work in a single space to follow social distancing guidelines
  • further increasing the frequency of hand washing and access to hand sanitiser in the workplace
  • separating workspaces 2 metres apart from one another, where possible
  • using screens or barriers
  • sitting or standing side-by-side or behind other people, rather than facing them, where seating arrangements allow
  • minimising indoor interactions where possible
  • repositioning workspaces to allow for optimal ventilation
  • reducing occupancy of group interaction spaces, including spaces shared with other organisations
  • re-organising passenger flows
  • increase surface cleaning
  • keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
  • making adjustments for those with specific needs or protected characteristics, for example disabled people, older people and pregnant women
  • consider groups of people who process information differently or who may not be able to distance from others
  • advising people to avoid loud talking, shouting or singing

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Personal protective equipment


The risks of coronavirus are best managed through measures such as social distancing, hygiene and cohorting.

If a risk assessment does show that PPE is required, then it must be provided free of charge to workers who need it. Any PPE provided must fit properly.

Where PPE is used for health and safety purposes in the workplace to protect against non-coronavirus risks, it should continue to be used.


Advice for workers and employers in non-clinical settings:

Social contact


Passengers must observe the relevant social contact rules that apply when they travel. The rules vary according to the local COVID alert level in place across England. They are different for the medium (tier 1)high (tier 2) or very high (tier 3) alert levels.

The relevant social contact rules set out in the different local COVID alert levels apply to passengers when they are travelling to an area with a higher alert level from the one where they are normally resident once they cross into that area. The rules in place where they are normally resident also apply to them for the duration of their journey if they are travelling to an area with a lower COVID alert level in place. They apply to passengers whether using public or private transport.

When travelling on public transport, aircraft, taxis, private hire vehicles, coaches, ferries or other maritime vessels passengers must not gather with others outside of their group that is permitted under the relevant social contact rules. They should also try to keep within their group and distance themselves from others where possible.

These rules do not place any capacity constraints on public transport services, private hire vehicles or leisure tours. Operators should continue to provide transport services which can accommodate separate multiple groups which conform to the requirements of the relevant social contact rules for the relevant local COVID alert level.


Under all the relevant social contact rules, whatever the alert level, there are some activities for which individuals are still permitted to travel in groups which do not otherwise conform to the requirements of the relevant social contact rules, but only where this travel is reasonably necessary in order to carry out a specific activity, including:

  • with work, or as part of voluntary or charitable services, for example, transport organised by an employer during the course of their work
  • with registered childcare, education or training, for example, transport organised by schools
  • as part of supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care, youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups, but only where those activities are provided by a registered professional
  • providing support to a vulnerable person
  • providing emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm
  • making arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents
  • training or competition, where the person concerned is an elite sportsperson
  • where fulfilling a legal obligation such as attending court or jury service


Passengers are recommended to check the relevant social contact rules in force to check if a particular activity applies to their journey.


The police will be able to take action against those that break these rules, including asking people to disperse and issuing fixed penalty notices starting at £200 for those who participate in illegal gatherings.


People aged 18 or over can be fined:

  • £200 for the first offence, lowered to £100 if paid within 14 days
  • £400 for the second offence, then doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £6,400


Transport providers operating cross-border services should be aware that the rules for social contact are different in the other UK nations:

Face coverings


Face coverings are mandatory on public transport and in substantially enclosed public areas of transport hubs from which passenger services operate. Face coverings are also mandatory in some other public places.

A face covering is not PPE. It is a covering of any type which covers a person’s nose and mouth. Surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of PPE should be reserved for people who need to wear them at work, such as health and care workers and people in industrial settings.

Please be mindful that the wearing of a face covering may inhibit communication with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound.


Face covering use by transport workers


The mandatory requirement for using face coverings does not apply to staff while they are working. The requirement does however apply to staff while they are not working, for example, when travelling to or from work on public transport, or if they enter a shop or supermarket in a transport hub before or after shifts, or whilst on a break.

In any case, face coverings offer some benefits in work situations where social distancing is difficult to manage. For example, when working in passenger facing roles including when providing assistance to disabled passengers.

Public health advice is that staff wear a face covering when they are unable to maintain social distancing in passenger facing roles, recognising that there will be exceptional circumstances when a staff member cannot wear a face covering, or when their task makes it sensible (based on a risk assessment) for them not to wear a face covering.

If staff do wear a face covering it is important that they follow the guidance on face coverings. You should support them in using face coverings safely. This means telling workers:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and after removing it
  • avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands – this is particularly important
  • change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
  • continue to wash your hands regularly
  • change and wash your face covering daily
  • if the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions – if it’s not washable, dispose of it safely
  • practise social distancing wherever possible


Workers should be made aware face coverings can prevent some disabled people from accessing oral information and instructions (from staff and fellow passengers).


Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales


The other UK nations have different rules for face coverings for workers:


Face covering use by passengers


Regulations mean passengers must wear a face covering when travelling by:

  • public transport services (bus, coach, train, tram, ferry, hovercraft, cable car) while they are in England
  • aircraft in English airspace which took off from, or are to land at, a place in England
  • passenger ships/vessels and hovercraft in the English territorial sea which departed from, or are to dock at, a place in England


Passengers must also wear a face covering in substantially enclosed public areas of transport hubs from which passenger services operate, such as:

  • airports
  • rail stations and terminals
  • the Channel Tunnel terminal in Kent
  • ports and terminals
  • bus, coach and tram stations and terminals


People should make or buy their own face coverings. Passengers will be breaking the law if they fail to comply and could be liable for a fine.

Surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of PPE should continue to be reserved for people who need to wear them at work. However, passengers will comply with regulation if they are wearing these.

Specific exemptions apply, including for health, equality or age reasons.


This requirement does not apply to:

  • school transport services
  • taxi or private hire vehicles – although a taxi driver or private hire vehicle operator may refuse to accept passengers if they do not wear a face covering
  • cruise ships
  • outdoor areas of transport hubs
  • non-public areas of transport hubs – for example, office space
  • business which are exempt from the face covering regulations in transport hubs – for example, bingo halls


Within the public area of a transport hub, passengers are able to remove their face covering in order to eat and drink in pubs, restaurants or bars, or if they are in an area within a transport hub where seating or tables are made available specifically for the purposes of eating and drinking, such as a food court.


Passenger compliance with the face covering regulations on public transport services and at transport hubs


The aim is to achieve high rates of compliance with wearing face coverings, rather than high rates of enforcement. The government is rolling out a major communications campaign on the need to wear face coverings and has communications assets for operators to use and share. Operators should communicate these messages on their services and communications channels so that passengers are aware of this new requirement.

It is important that your communications with passengers, and training for staff, sets out the list of exemptions from this regulation including for health, age or equalities grounds.

The regulations give operators powers to deny access to their services if a passenger is not wearing a face covering, or to direct them to wear one or leave a service if they are not wearing a face covering. Transport for London (TfL) also has these powers in substantially enclosed public areas of TfL transport hubs. Operators have discretion over how they use these powers – you are not obliged to use them.

If passengers fail to comply with operators’ encouragement and instructions, without a legitimate exemption, the police and Transport for London enforcement officers have powers to issue a fixed penalty notice.

Where a passenger seeks to rely on an exemption from the requirement to wear a face covering, those seeking to enforce the requirement should take a proportionate approach to the evidence they require in support of that reliance. By way of example, it is not envisaged that people relying on an age, health or disability related exemption will routinely be required to produce any written evidence in support of their reliance. People who are exempt may choose to use operator or government issued cards or badges to avoid challenge. It is important to be aware that there is no requirement to do this, and some people may choose not to.


Consider using this 6-step process for escalation:


Operator led: 1 engage, 2 explain, 3 encourage

Operators should encourage passengers to comply with the regulation through communications or direct engagement. Operators should also explain the exemptions from the requirements.


Operator led: 4 enable use

A face covering is covering of any type that covers the nose and mouth. As these can be made at home, the government does not expect access to them to be a significant issue. There is no requirement or expectation that operators would make face coverings available, though operators could consider doing so, for example for free and/or in vending machines.


Operator led: 5 entry and exit restrictions

Operators and their staff have powers to prevent access to a public transport vehicle or to direct a passenger to wear a face covering in a public transport vehicle or leave a public transport vehicle, if they are not wearing a face covering. TfL also has these powers in substantially enclosed public areas of TfL transport hubs. Operators have discretion over how they use these powers.


Police led: 6 enforcement

Where the above steps fail, the police and TfL have the power to fine a passenger if they continue to refuse to comply.


Exemptions from mandatory face coverings on public transport and at transport hubs


The requirement to wear a face covering on public transport, ferries, hovercraft, aircraft or cable cars does not apply to:

  • a child who is under the age of 11
  • a person in an allocated cabin, berth or other similar accommodation, when they are in that accommodation alone or only with members of their own household or support bubble
  • a person who boards a service in a vehicle and remains in that vehicle whilst using the service, and the vehicle is not itself used for the provision of a public transport service
  • to a person who enters or is within a transport hub in a vehicle (other than a vehicle being used for the provision of a public transport service)
  • an employee of the operator of the relevant public transport service who is acting in the course of their employment
  • any other person providing services under arrangements made with the operator of the relevant public transport service who is acting in the provision of those services
  • a constable or police community support office acting in the course of their duty
  • an emergency responder (other than a constable) acting in their capacity as an emergency responder
  • a relevant official (an inspector or surveyor of ships, a person appointed by or an officer of the Health and Safety Executive, a local authority officer, a pilot of a ship, a civil aviation inspector or a border force officer) acting in the course of their employment or their duties


The requirement to wear a face covering in substantially enclosed public areas of transport hubs or on public transport, ferries, hovercraft, aircraft or cable cars also does not apply where a person has a good reason not to. This includes:

  • where they cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering:
  • where they are travelling with, or providing assistance to, another person who relies on lip reading to communicate
  • where they remove the face covering to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to themselves or others
  • where they are travelling to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and do not have a face covering with them
  • to eat or drink on public transport, where it is reasonably necessary to do so,
  • where they have to remove their face covering to take medication
  • where they are requested to remove the face covering by a constable or other relevant person


Conditions of travel


These new powers are to be used at your discretion. You could also consider, if applicable, how your conditions of travel could be amended to ensure high levels of compliance on your services.

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Workforce planning


Protecting workers arriving at and leaving the workplace


When arriving and leaving the workplace, there may be occasions when workers are in the same space or are using entrances and exits at the same time. Consider opportunities to reduce risk in these situations.


You could consider:

  • staggering arrival and departure times at work where possible to reduce crowding on routes to and from the workplace
  • reducing queues, for example by having more entry points to the workplace
  • providing more storage for workers for clothes and bags
  • managing queues, for example through floor markings, signs and introducing one-way flow at entry and exit points, considering the impact on public spaces, and working collaboratively with other operators and local authorities
  • providing hand sanitiser at building entry/exit points and not using touch-based security devices (such as keypads)
  • reviewing workplace access points and entry requirements (for example, deactivating turnstiles requiring pass checks in favour of showing a pass to security personnel at a distance) - organisations need to make sure that alternative checks provide the same level of security
  • limiting passengers in business vehicles (for example, work minibuses), leaving seats empty
  • collaborating with other organisations that share the premises to minimise people on site
  • assigning fixed groups of workers to the same transportation routes where sole travel is not possible
  • providing additional safe facilities for runners/walkers/cyclists as well as alternative means of transport such as coaches


Protecting workers in the workplace


You should take steps to reduce transmission from face-to-face interaction and enable social distancing in the workplace.


You could consider:

  • making workforce travel plans in advance of workers returning to work
  • as far as possible, where workers are split into teams or shift groups, fixing these teams or shift groups so that where contact is unavoidable, this happens between the same people
  • where shift patterns are not already in place, consider introducing these to enable more workers to work during a 24-hour period while not exceeding a safe number of workers at any one time
  • identifying areas where people must pass things directly to each other (for example, documents, spare parts, cargo, raw materials) or share tools/equipment, and look for ways to remove direct contact through use of drop-off points or transfer zones
  • using remote working tools to avoid meetings with lots of people
  • if meetings are necessary, keeping all attendees 2 metres apart where possible, or 1 metre apart with suitable risk mitigations (where 2 metres is not viable)
  • during meetings ensure people do not share objects, such as pens and paper, and have hand sanitiser available
  • using digital means to communicate shift patterns
  • staggering break times to reduce pressure on break rooms or canteens and ensure social distancing is enforced in these areas
  • designating outside areas as common areas if safe to do so
  • creating additional space from other parts of the worksite or building freed up by remote working
  • using protective screening for workers in reception or similar areas
  • using packaged meals or similar to avoid opening canteens
  • reconfiguring seating and tables to optimise spacing and reduce face-to-face situations
  • using floor tape or paint to mark areas to help workers keep to a 2 metre distance
  • avoiding use of hot desks where possible – otherwise cleaning workstations and shared equipment between different occupants
  • limiting use of high-touch items and shared office equipment (for example, printers, whiteboards)
  • only essential meeting participants should attend face to face meetings
  • providing hand sanitiser in workspaces
  • reducing job and location rotation, for example through cohorting
  • designate a segregated space where any worker developing coronavirus symptoms can be held safely pending medical attention or safe return to home for self-isolation
  • provide extra ‘black bag’ waste bins or litter bins for staff to throw away face coverings – staff should not use a recycling bin

Queues and protecting passenger flows


To protect passengers and workers on the transport network, it is essential, as far as possible, to enable social distancing. These measures should cover different types of vehicles, car parks, service areas, airports, station concourses and platforms as well as considering how people act in different circumstances. For example, consider wet weather, indoor, outdoor, security procedures. Transport operators are also advised to consider and mitigate the security implications of any temporary interventions to support social distancing.

Particular attention should be given to queues that may occur, including at interchanges and busy times of day, or when there are unanticipated delays. It is important that passengers can queue safely (observing social distancing where possible) and that workers stay safe while passengers queue.



  • undertaking joint planning with other transport organisations at transport interchanges to ensure aligned approaches
  • identifying areas where there is increased risk of congestion or crowding due to reduced capacity because of social distancing requirements and identifying mitigations with other operators and local authorities
  • following guidance on public places and considering arrangements that other shops and business may need to implement for their circumstances and how these plans interact
  • identifying in advance areas where queues may occur:
    • in these and surrounding areas, consider physical infrastructure, passenger signage, road safety signage, communications and other controls to achieve safe queuing - for example, introduce floor markings, signs and one-way flow at entry and exit points




For security searches, PHE recommends:

  • that staff consider wearing gloves for each search and wash their hands as frequently as possible


Crowd management


  • consider whether queues can be moved to locations with more space for safe queues
  • if services, concourses or interchanges become too crowded, or queues become too long, operators should consider the full range of operational responses available, recognising the knock-on effects on other transport modes in making these decisions
  • consider using social media, apps and other digital methods to alert passengers before they leave home, and to help passengers stay away or disperse until there is sufficient capacity available


Social distancing in vehicles and at service areas, stations, stops, ports and airports


  • rearranging, limiting or removing seating to try and ensure social distancing is observed and that it can be cleaned regularly using a rota or some other tracker - this may include:
    • blocking off seats that are in close proximity to a driver or other workers and passengers
    • removing face-to-face seating
    • maximising separation for example by sitting in back left-hand seat of a car
  • using floor tape, signs or paint in passenger areas to help people keep 2 metres apart, where possible
  • using screens to create a physical barrier between people where appropriate, such as in ticket offices
  • introducing more one-way passenger flow through areas and vehicles - for example, have one-way entry and exit for vehicles where possible
  • revising maximum occupancy for lifts and ways of operating lifts
  • keeping in mind particular needs of workers and passengers who have protected characteristics, for example disabled people, older people and pregnant women




See staff and passenger communications.

Emergency incidents


Emergency procedures


Ensure that emergency procedures are followed during an emergency or situation requiring an evacuation. Consider how to maintain social distancing in these situations, recognising that people may not always be able to stay 2 metres apart. Review and update existing queuing, crowd management and emergency plans and the situations when these are instigated.


What to do if someone develops symptoms of coronavirus in a transport setting


If anyone becomes unwell with the symptoms of coronavirus in a transport setting they should be sent home and advised to follow the stay at home guidance. They should also arrange to have a test to see if they have coronavirus.

If they need clinical advice, they should go online to NHS 111 (or call 111 if they don’t have internet access). In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. They should not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.

If a passenger begins to develop symptoms, they should be encouraged to return home to self-isolate, maintaining social distancing and minimising contact with others.

There is currently no requirement for a worker to self-isolate if they have been in proximity with someone showing coronavirus symptoms in the workplace and have been following social distancing measures. Workers should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell.

It is not necessary to close the transport setting or send any staff home.



Touch points (for example buttons to open doors, hand rails) across the transport network should be a particular area of focus for more frequent cleaning. You should follow guidance on cleaning and waste disposal and implement cleaning protocols to limit coronavirus transmission and consider who will carry out the cleaning activity.


Cleaning before increasing capacity


You should ensure that any site or location that has been closed or kept partially open during the coronavirus outbreak is assessed and appropriate steps taken to prepare for increased capacity or ongoing operation.


You could consider:

  • conducting a working environment assessment for all sites that have been closed, before restarting work
  • carrying out cleaning procedures, providing hand sanitiser, adjusting ventilation before restarting work
  • using heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and/or opening windows and doors to encourage ventilation, where possible and safe to do so
  • defining and communicating consistent procedures for standard and deep cleaning


Keeping public and private areas and modes of transport clean


Keep public and private areas and vehicles clean and prevent the transmission of coronavirus as a result of touching contaminated surfaces.


You could consider:

  • identifying higher risk areas such as areas that are touched more regularly
  • supplying standard cleaning products for regular cleaning and making sure there are adequate disposal arrangements for used cleaning products
  • cleaning regularly-touched objects and surfaces (like door handles, handrails and ticket machines) more often than usual using standard cleaning products
  • clearing workspaces, removing and appropriately disposing of waste and removing belongings from the work area at the end of each shift
  • cleaning all workstations, shared vehicles, hand tools, controls, machinery and equipment after use and between each shift and user
  • encouraging a reduction in paper-based processes and replacing these with digital no-touch forms of communication where possible
  • encouraging workers to wash hands before boarding vehicles
  • retaining sufficient quantities of hand sanitiser/wipes within vehicles to enable workers to clean hands after each delivery/drop-off
  • using wipes to clean fuel pumps before and after use
  • cleaning vehicle keys before and after handling
  • regular cleaning of work areas consistent with published guidance
  • deactivation of touch screen information boards


To help maintain passenger confidence that they can travel safely, consider how to publicise any new cleaning processes, using in-vehicle and at station communication.


Hygiene – hand-washing, sanitation facilities, toilets and showers


To help workers and passengers maintain good hygiene, you could consider:

  • To help workers and passengers maintain good hygiene, you could consider:

  • using signs and messages to build awareness of:
    • good hand-washing technique and the need to increase hand-washing frequency
    • the need to avoid touching your face
    • to cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into your arm if a tissue is not available
  • providing hand sanitisation and hand washing facilities at various points throughout transport hubs if possible, and encouraging regular use by passengers
  • providing paper towels in hand washing facilities
  • sufficient provision of hand sanitiser onsite in addition to washrooms, and for those working away from hand washing facilities
  • configuration of toilet and shower facilities to ensure they are kept clean, with social distancing where possible and with best practice handwashing followed between each use
  • setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets, with increased frequency of cleaning for facilities, especially those that are heavily used
  • keeping showers and changing rooms closed until clear use and cleaning guidance is set
  • minimising use of portable toilets
  • keeping facilities well ventilated, for example by fixing doors open where appropriate
  • putting up a visible cleaning schedule
  • providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection and disposal
  • provide extra ‘black bag’ waste bins or litter bins for customers to throw away face coverings – staff and passengers should not use a recycling bin



You should consider how to increase ventilation and air flow. Where possible, transport operators and businesses should ensure that a fresh air supply is consistently flowing through vehicles, carriages, transport hubs and office buildings.


To achieve this, you could consider:

  • air conditioning
    • most air conditioning systems do not need adjustment
    • advice can be sought from HVAC engineers
  • fresh ventilation systems can operate as normal, but recirculating air systems may require adjustments to increase fresh air flow
  • high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration
  • opening doors and windows where possible and safe to do so

Communications and training


Transport operators should keep workers and passengers informed of the latest coronavirus related safety procedures. You should share the government’s most recent guidance to all workers and organise training sessions on how to work or interact safely with colleagues and the public. Operators and businesses should carefully consider the best ways to share advice on how to travel safely and social distancing guidelines to passengers.


For workers, you could consider:

  • engaging with workers through unions, work councils and other workers’ bodies to quickly explain and agree any changes in working arrangements
  • let workers know in advance if they are required to travel or not, ensuring where possible workers continue to work at home
  • clear and regular communication to improve understanding and consistency of how ways of working are applied
  • communication and training materials on new procedures
    • some of these may need to be delivered online to maintain social distancing between workers
    • training should include disability, equality and awareness training
  • using posters and announcements to remind workers to wash their hands often and follow general hygiene advice
  • the use of visual and digital communications (for example, whiteboards, signs, websites, intranets, emails) to explain changes to schedules, breakdowns, materials shortages without the need for face-to-face communications
  • providing guidance for workers assisting people with protected characteristics, for example disabled people, the elderly and pregnant women


For passengers, before travel, you could consider:

  • anyone that does need to travel to work can use public transport if they need to, but they should be strongly encouraged to use other forms of transport where possible
  • promoting other active travel modes (for example, walking, cycling) or other demand management techniques
  • communicating with passengers through social media and websites to help passengers prepare for their journeys and what to expect
  • the use of simple, clear and accessible messaging to explain guidelines using images and clear language, with consideration of groups whose first language may not be English or where alternative formats may be required
  • providing passengers with information on timetables, expected journey times, expected capacity (accounting for social distancing), delays and changes to normal routes, while requesting patience as part of messaging
  • promoting online ticket purchases
  • engaging and explaining the mandatory requirement to wear a face covering including explaining who is exempt
  • reminders to passengers to wash or sanitise their hands before and after touching their face covering
  • information on provision and any changes to assistance services for those with protected characteristics, for example disabled people, the elderly and pregnant women, and how they can continue to access transport in a safe way
  • providing clear information to the public on how this guidance is being implemented
  • publicising cleaning regimes to instil public confidence
  • making communications available in different formats so they are accessible to all


For passengers, during travel, you could consider:

  • engaging and explaining the mandatory requirement to wear a face covering including explaining who is exempt.
  • displaying messages, signs and making announcements to encourage people to stay alert and safe
  • using posters and announcements to remind travellers and passengers to wash their hands often and follow general hygiene advice
  • signs and announcements to help passengers understand what they need to do to travel safely and maintain social distancing when entering or exiting a site or vehicle, in consultation with other operators and local authorities for public highways and thoroughfares
  • providing clear information to the public on how this guidance is being implemented
  • making staff available to answer questions and provide help to those unable to access other messaging, particularly if station or service availability is subject to significant change that may cause confusion
  • ensuring existing safety messaging is increased in prominence
  • making communications available in different formats so they are accessible to all

International travel


You should consider this guidance when operating services arriving into or departing from the UK and adhere to legal requirements and guidance set by foreign governments when operating in other countries.


Operators should encourage passengers to consider the relevant guidance on:


All passengers entering the UK will be required to complete a contact tracing form and provide various contact details.

When operating in the UK, consideration should also be given to any guidance issued by the devolved governments of the UK. Read about:

 Status of this guidance


This guidance must be considered alongside legal duties and other guidance produced by the government and the relevant transport regulator for each mode. It contains non-statutory guidance to take into account when complying with these existing obligations. Transport providers should remain mindful of their obligations under both health and safety and employment legislation.

Each operator will need to translate this into the specific actions it needs to take, depending on the nature of the business, including the size and type of business, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated.

This guidance does not supersede any legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities and it is important that as a business or an employer you continue to comply with your existing obligations, including those relating to individuals with protected characteristics. When considering how to apply this guidance, take into account agency workers, contractors and other people, as well as your employees.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer transport guidance for operators


Source: Department for Transport

Published 12 May 2020

Last updated 14 October 2020


Added information on local COVID alert levels.


Adding instructions about promoting use of the NHS COVID-19 app.


Changes to guidance on working from home and on wearing face coverings in retail and hospitality venues located within transport hubs.


Update to reflect new legislation on social contact and the requirement for passengers to wear face coverings in taxis and private hire vehicles.


Changes to the sections about risk assessments and protecting people who are at higher risk.


Information added on areas with local restrictions.


Change to rule on wearing a face covering in transport hubs.


Latest advice on communications and information on upcoming changes to face covering rules in shops and supermarkets.


Added information about providing transport services in areas under local lockdown.


Linking to the list of countries and territories on the travel corridors exemption list.


Social distancing guidance updated.


Updated to reflect the upcoming requirement for passengers to wear face coverings on public transport in England.


Added details of how people with coronavirus symptoms can arrange to have a test to see if they have COVID-19.


First published.

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