Scots using the country's public transport services must now wear face coverings in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Scotland's Transport Secretary has urged those looking to travel this week to leave space for 'those who need it most' and limit their journeys.

As phase two of Scotland's route map out of lockdown gets underway, Michael Matheson urged employed to careful manage their phased returning of staff, as early figures suggest up to 55% of employees could travel to the workplace in this phase.

This is compared to a figure of just 30% when full lockdown was in place.

The increased travel could result in a surge in the number of passengers by around a third from the current number of just 225,000 per day.

ScotRail has announced it will provide face masks for free at more than a dozen stations on Monday.

READ MORE: ScotRail to offer free face masks at some stations as coverings become mandatory

Mr Matheson said: “First of all I want to pay tribute to those transport operators and workers who have kept Scotland’s key workers moving in recent months, during an incredibly testing time.

“We are now in a position to enter phase two of the route map, however we must do so with great caution, as we cannot risk a resurgence of the virus and wasting all of the good work to date in terms of respecting boundaries and working from home.

“Transport has a vital role to play in helping restart the economy, but there is a clear and great need for personal and collective responsibility when travelling, especially by public transport.

“It’s also very important to leave space on public transport for those who need it most.

“Passengers who must travel will notice some major changes at our bus and train stations and transport hubs.

“More hand sanitisers, physical distancing measures, posters and information points, and, crucially, you should be wearing a face covering.”

A Survation poll for the charity Advice Direct Scotland on Sunday also found just over two-thirds (67%) were not comfortable using public transport after lockdown with 29% comfortable

Mr Matheson added: “Remember capacity will be around 10 to 20% of normal, even when full services resume.

“It is therefore perhaps inevitable that there will be some circumstances where the two-metre rule is breached, even temporarily.

“That is why all passengers have to wear a face covering.

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“I continue to engage directly with business leaders and major employers and I am encouraging them to embrace these changes which can help us all adapt to a new working and business environment.

“We are increasing the frequency of public transport, but without a significant reduction in demand, the plan won’t work.

“I am pleased that we are already seeing some real ambition from local authorities and partners in terms of redesigning the landscape and infrastructure around our towns and cities, supported by Scottish Government funding, and I look forward to seeing more of these measures being rolled out over the coming weeks and months.”