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Travelling To Work In A Pandemic

Travelling To Work In A Pandemic
27 May 2020 | Updated 28 May 2020

Following the relaxation of lockdown rules and as we prepare to move to phase two, many who cannot work from home are returning to the commute.

As schools, outdoor markets and showrooms prepare to reopen from 1 June, and other non-essential retailers from 15 June, the number of people travelling to and from a physical place of work is set to rise.

This raises a few questions regarding car travel and how best to stay safe on public transport.




In guidance that was published on 12 May and last updated on 23 May, the advice regarding carsharing appears to concentrate on two scenarios. One where there is a choice to travel with others, and one where there is not.

The guidance states that if you normally share a vehicle with people from other households for essential journeys, you are recommended to find a different way to travel. “Consider walking, cycling or using your own vehicle if you can.” it reads.

“If you have to travel with people outside your household group, try to share the transport with the same people each time and keep to small groups of people at any one time.

“Where people from different households need to use a vehicle at the same time, good ventilation (keeping the car windows open) and facing away from each other may help to reduce the risk of transmission. Where possible, consider seating arrangements to optimise distance between people in the vehicle.”

It also instructs us to be aware of the surfaces you or others touch. If people from different households use a vehicle (for example through a car share scheme), the advice is to clean it between journeys using gloves and standard cleaning products. 


What about company pool cars?


There do not appear to be any specific guidelines regarding the use of shared vehicles or pool cars. However, the guidance for people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar states that frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, such as door handles, fuel pumps and vehicle keys, and making sure there are adequate disposal arrangements is recommended.

Workers are encouraged to wash hands before boarding vehicles and retaining sufficient quantities of hand sanitiser/wipes within vehicles to enable workers to clean hands.


Staying safe on public transport


Transport for London has published advice for businesses on how to keep staff safe as they return to work across the city.

TfL has asked all employers to give the following advice to their staff:


  • Given the national requirement to maintain two metres distance between passengers wherever possible, the capacity on the Tube and buses will be reduced to around 13-15 per cent, even once services are back to full strength
  • Public transport should be avoided wherever possible to free up the limited space available to those who have no alternative way to travel
  • If you must travel, please plan ahead and travel outside of the busiest times, particularly first thing in the morning. You should take the most direct route and avoid busy interchanges
  • Peak times to avoid wherever possible are 05:45-08:15 and 16:00-17:30
  • If you can, please walk or cycle for all or part of your journey. TfL has been introducing a wide range of improvements in partnership with boroughs to widen footpaths and provide more cycle lanes
  • TfL is taking measures across the transport network to enable social distancing of two metres where possible. Please wear a face covering and do not travel if you have any symptoms of the virus
  • You may be asked to wait to enter a station. Some stations will have one-way systems, or you may be asked to walk on the left. TfL is also asking people to maintain social distancing throughout stations, for example on stairs, escalators and in lifts
  • If travelling by bus, please maintain social distancing at stops and bus stations wherever possible
  • Please wash your hands before and after travel and carry hand sanitiser with you. We have also started putting hand sanitiser dispensers in stations and will be installing many more in the coming weeks


Heidi Alexander, Deputy Mayor for Transport, said: “The coronavirus pandemic presents unprecedented challenges to London’s transport network. It’s an inescapable fact that no mass transport system of the scale we have in London can accommodate as many people as it used to while maintaining social distancing – even with all services running. 

“That is why it’s vital that all Londoners – especially businesses – work with us to prevent overcrowding on the network. We are urging businesses to do all they can to assist their employees with the resources they need to continue working from home and encourage staff to travel by bike or on foot wherever possible. If journeys have to be made by public transport it’s essential that Londoners avoid travelling at the busiest times and always wear a facial covering.”

Picture: A photograph of a person driving a car, from the interior perspective

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 27 May 2020


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