Covid 19 coronavirus: Bus passengers and drivers ditch masks despite outbreak threat

Bus passengers and drivers are ignoring pleas from top health officials and the Covid response minister, travelling on public transport without masks today.

Scores of passengers have been seen sitting on buses heading into Auckland’s CBD at rush hour without any form of face covering as the city faces the prospect of a fresh community outbreak.

Yesterday the deputy general of health Dr Caroline McElnay and Covid response minister Chris Hipkins both strongly implored Aucklanders to wear masks on public transport and socially distance.

Auckland still remains at alert level 1 which does not require people using public transport to wear masks.

The number of people choosing not to cover up has floored some commuters who believe it is careless in this current outbreak.

NZME’s Mix FM breakfast host Mel Homer said she was stunned at what she saw as a bus drove past taking people into the city this morning.

“Today of all days, would be a good day to wear a mask on public transport in Auckland, right? I’ve just walked past a bus heading to the cbd and of the 20 or so people on board, including the driver, not a single mask,” she tweeted.

Another commuter said it appeared few bus drivers heading into the city today from the North Shore were wearing masks.

“There were no bus drivers wearing masks and only three passengers on my actual bus today out of six were. But then I started checking other buses on Fanshawe and Victoria Streets and none of the drivers were wearing masks.”

Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan said while mask wearing was supported for drivers and passengers alike, it was not compulsory.

“Our advice from the Ministry of Health is that while it is not mandatory to wear a mask on public transport, it is encouraged.”

In the meantime the Government is urging all workers in Auckland’s downtown business district to work from home.

If people have to come into the city they are advised to wear a mask on public transport and socially distance where possible.

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