Face masks are now encouraged for passengers on NSW public transport.
The change to strongly encouraging mask wearing came on Sunday, August 2, with NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant recommending masks be worn in indoor settings where physical distancing is hard to maintain, such as on public transport.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that physical distancing is still the main goal.
“People should continue to maintain their physical distance – it is our most effective weapon. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you can’t maintain your physical distance you should wear a mask,” she said.
“It is critical the community understands masks should be used in conjunction with other measures, and not as a standalone measure.”
People are still advised not to travel on public transport if they are sick and to maintain good hygiene.
While masks will not be enforced on public transport, Transport for NSW is strongly recommending passengers wear masks.
A Transport for NSW spokesperson also said that updated mask guidelines have been issued for staff.
“Transport for NSW has made face masks available for customer facing frontline staff and is strongly recommending these masks are used at work.”
While masks were made mandatory in Melbourne on July 22, no other Australian jurisdiction has enforced a similar measure. Social distancing is also not mandatory on public transport in NSW, however heavily encouraged and promoted through the “no dot, no spot” campaign.
CEO of the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) Caroline Wilkie said that the rail industry thanked those who were wearing masks.
“Wearing a mask helps save lives and keeps our rail workers safe as well,” she said.
“We welcome the public support for those on the front line as they keep working to support the rest of us.”
Passenger volumes on NSW public transport were beginning to increase in May and June. Sydney Trains recorded a low of six million trips in April, while June recording 13,754,000 trips. Since the start of July, however, trips on the entire NSW public transport network have begun to decline again, by around 9 per cent.
Prior to COVID-19, in June 2019 32 million trips were taken on the Sydney Trains network.