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No more physical distancing on buses, trains or planes – but masks remain compulsory

News from Ministry of Health
Physical distancing requirements on public transport have been reviewed by the Ministry of Health to determine whether they are still required at Alert Level 2 (or below). The Ministry’s assessment is that mandatory face covering and individuals tracking their movements mean physical distancing requirements can now be relaxed.

With the use of face coverings, our updated advice is that physical distancing should be maintained where possible, however it is not required on either domestic flights or on public transport such as trains, buses and ferries.

Reports are that passengers on public transport are taking the use of face coverings seriously and regularly scanning QR codes on all forms of transport. This along with electronic ticketing on airlines means we can contract trace rapidly if required.

The advisory by Ministry of Health and Ministry of Transport for recommended seating configurations on public transport that promoted physical distancing have now been revoked, effective immediately.

People should continue to observe physical distancing where possible.

Airlines and those transport operators requiring pre-bookings have been advised of these changes and can now accept higher volumes of bookings.

If you are travelling, to work, school or on holiday, please remember to practise the core hygiene measures – disinfect hands, cough into your elbow and, most importantly, if you are unwell, please stay home.

News from Greater Wellington Regional Council
Following the Government announcement, physical distancing will be removed from Metlink services from today. Metlink General Manager Scott Gallacher says the move makes sense following a successful transition to face coverings.

“This change comes on the back of the hard work of Metlink staff and passengers who have shown fantastic support for face coverings, giving the Government confidence to relax physical distancing on public transport,” says Scott Gallacher.

With face coverings in place, passengers will no longer have to keep a 1-metre distance on board services, which means capacity levels will return to normal on Metlink services.

“Hundreds of thousands of people have been wearing face coverings on our buses, ferries and trains. Social media is awash with people wearing the most fantastic masks, scarves and bandanas and Wellingtonians can be proud of kicking off a national trend using the hashtag #OnBoardWithMasks to show their support,” says Scott Gallacher.

The Government expects all New Zealanders to wear face coverings on public transport with exemptions only for school services, children under 12 years old, and passengers with disability and health concerns.

“We’re working with our operators right now to get the message out to all Metlink staff and we’ll be updating our messaging across all Metlink channels and social media but the message from the Prime Minister is very clear; physical distancing in no longer required on services but passengers must continue to follow all other alert level 2 advice,” says Scott Gallacher.

Passengers should continue to follow the Government’s level 2 advice which includes logging their journeys using QR codes and the COVID-19 app, practicing good personal hygiene by washing and sanitising their hands before and after travelling, sneezing and coughing into their elbows and avoiding public transport completely if they are sick.

“We have to stay vigilant. It is paramount to the safety of the community that we all follow the advice of the Government. We are all in this together and the Government is calling upon all of us to make the most appropriate personal choices during these extraordinary times. Thank you for your ongoing cooperation and patience, as we work together to keep our community safe and healthy.”

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