Last reviewed 21 July 2021

The Government has confirmed that passengers in England no longer have to wear face coverings when travelling on public transport, with effect from 19 July, after the Prime Minister said that such restrictions should become voluntary (see Emphasis on “personal responsibility” as restrictions ease).

In response, a union representing tens of thousands of bus drivers has written to its members setting out their legal rights.

Unite, which described the move away from the mandatory wearing of face coverings as an act of “gross negligence”, has highlighted a YouGov poll showing that 71% of the public support continuing the requirement to wear masks on public transport.

It has written to its bus driver members reminding them that, under s.44 and s.100 of the Employment Rights Act, workers have a right to remove themselves from the workplace if they believe that by continuing to work their health is being placed in serious and imminent danger.

Unite national officer for public transport, Bobby Morton, said: “With the government now saying people are ‘expected and recommended’ to wear masks but no longer having to do so by law, it has created confusion and it is guilty of dangerous mixed messaging”.

As a consequence, he went on, Unite has a duty to ensure our members are fully aware of their rights and do not knowingly risk their health and safety at work.

The full text of the message sent to drivers can be found at www.unitetheunion.org/what-we-do/unite-in-your-sector/passenger-transport/face-masks-and-your-safety.