Many travellers will be using public transport this festive season to travel long distances to visit family and friends in other provinces.
This year will be different due to the pandemic. Emma Corder, managing director of industrial cleaning products manufacturer Industroclean, said that the movement of people is one of the easiest and quickest ways in which a virus is spread due to the close contact of commuters for prolonged periods.
“South Africa’s lockdown level 1 travel restrictions allow for the opening of our surrounding borders, and those ‘going home’ need to be more vigilant than before. If not undertaken responsibly, South Africans travelling to other parts of the country, and the expected increase in social gatherings, pose the greatest threat to the management of the pandemic,” she said.
Corder said commuters and operators need to ensure regulations pertaining to Covid-19 are followed.
“The actual commute is not the only risk of infection travellers will face. Public transport hubs and pick up points see hundreds of commuters congregating at a central point sometimes queuing for hours.
Passengers should practice social distancing at busy transport hubs, keep a recommended distance of 1.5 to 2m from other commuters and follow any new regulations that may have been introduced such as infrastructural changes that assist with access control and screening of commuters.
She warned: “Do not board an overloaded vehicle. Social distancing and avoiding body contact with other commuters becomes even more challenging on an overloaded vehicle. Ensure that you sanitise your hands before boarding, regularly during the trip and when disembarking and avoid touching handrails and vehicle doors.”
She said passengers and drivers need to wear a mask at all times.
Here are some other tips for passengers:
- Wear a mask at all times. If a passenger next to you refuses to wear a mask, alert the driver.
- Make sure you have the exact fares to limit contact with conductors and money. While it is not proven that one can contract Covid from handling coins and notes, it is good hygiene practice to wash your hands after touching money.
- Keep the vehicle windows open to ensure good ventilation and respiratory hygiene.
Vehicle operators and drivers also have a responsibility toward passengers:
- Before and after each trip vehicles should be sanitised.
- The inside of vehicles with a focus on rails, windowpanes and door handles should be washed down with soap and water and then disinfected at least once per day.
- Refuse to board anyone not wearing a mask.
- Marshalls and, or drivers must ensure that all commuters’ hands are sanitised, that they are screened and personal details recorded when boarding.
- Do not overload vehicles, commuters need to avoid body contact.
- Eating on board should not be allowed, so make regular stops which will allow commuters to practice social distancing when eating or drinking.
- Make sure sufficient, quality cleaning equipment and supplies are available and that these are re-stocked regularly.