THE SCOTTISH Government should provide free face coverings for commuters to wear on public transport as part of plans to get the country moving again, Labour has suggested. 

On Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon will lay out proposals for “how public transport can operate safely” as lockdown rules begin to ease later this week. Phase one of the routemap is set to start being implemented on Friday, subject to the infection rate remaining low enough to safely start easing restrictions. 

The routemap to lifting restrictions suggests that in phase one, businesses and organisations “are encouraged to manage travel demand through staggered start times and flexible working patterns” while the public will be advised to “stay within a short distance of your local community” for outdoor leisure and exercise.

No travel limit will be put on people meeting up with other households, although this must be done outdoors and socially distanced, but the First Minister has urged people to “use their judgement” over what is appropriate. 

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In the second phase of the routemap, which could follow three weeks after phase one is rolled out, the strategy points to “public transport operating increased services but capacity still significantly limited to allow for physical distancing”.  

It adds that “travel at peak times” will be “discouraged as far as possible” and warns that there “may be geographical differences depending on circumstances”. 

Ahead of Ms Sturgeon’s announcement on Tuesday, Scottish Labour is calling for assurances that the safety of transport staff and passengers will be taken seriously when networks begin to welcome more passengers. 

The party is also calling for face coverings to be offered, free of charge, to passengers at stations and stops. 

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Colin Smyth, Labour’s transport spokesperson, said: “The safety of passengers and workers has to be guaranteed if public transport services are to be increased. 

“Passenger numbers are already beginning to rise, and that will accelerate as the lockdown is eased from this week. We cannot have a repeat of the scenes we saw in England with overcrowding, as people went back to work.  

“It’s clear the Government has no intention of implementing physical changes on our buses and trains such as removing seats, so they need to spell out how they will actually achieve social distancing in a way that is enforceable and safe for passengers and workers.” 

He added: “That has to include assurances that the resources will be provided for physical safety measures such as screens. The Government also needs a more definitive position on face coverings. If passengers are being told they must wear them to travel, then they should be available free at stations and stops. 

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“If the Government has no intention of providing PPE in a comprehensive way for transport workers, then we need to know how they will be protected. 

 “There are serious questions about how the government is going to keep passengers and staff safe, and Scottish Labour will continue to demand answers.” 

The transport plan is due to be published following a statement to the Scottish Parliament by Transport Secretary Michael Matheson on Tuesday.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: "The plan will be dynamic and regularly updated and will be aligned to the route map to transition out of lockdown set out by the First Minister last week.

"We have been engaging with a wide range of stakeholders in its development, including operators, Cosla, unions, regional transport partnerships and other stakeholders.

"We know that capacity on our public transport system will remain limited as a result of the need to maintain physical distancing and guidance for public transport users and operators is a key element of the plan to keep public transport safe."

He added: "This guidance is one of a series being issued by the Scottish Government across different sectors.

"It will assist transport operators and their workforce in the provision of safe operations during the coronavirus pandemic.

"It will also set out advice for users, businesses and organisations when considering when to travel and how staff will travel to work, as we transition through the phases of the route map."