THE SCOTTISH Government will only ask police to enforce mandatory face covering rules on public transport if “people continue to flout” the guidance.

From today, wearing a face covering such as a scarf or bandana is mandatory on public transport including trains, taxis and buses. But Transport Secretary Michael Matheson has indicated that no enforcement of the rules is yet to be formally brought forward – with a hope that “high compliance levels” will mean action is not needed.

The Transport Secretary warned that those only carrying out essential journeys should be using public transport with expactations on buses and trains, “capacity will be limited to between 10 and in some cases 20 per cent.”

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Speaking on BBC Good Morning Scotland, Mr Matheson moved to reassure people that it is safe to use public transport.

He said: “I’m confident, given the experience in other parts of the world and other parts of the UK that we will get high compliance levels with face coverings. If they don’t, ultimately there is the penalty of a fixed penalty notice which can be issued by the police.

“We’ve asking people to comply with this from today and we want to encourage and educate people to make sure that they do have a face covering.”

Mr Matheson was asked whether passengers who refuse to wear a face covering on public transport should be stopped from being able to travel.

He said: “No, we want to encourage people to make sure that they have a face covering.

“Over the course of the next couple of days, we’ll continue to make sure that we impress that message on the travelling public.”

He added: “If we get to a point where people are continuing to flout these regulations then enforcement action will need to be taken and that’s a matter that would be taken forward by Police Scotland and British Transport Police.”

Phil Campbell, head of ScotRail’s customer operations, said that “early signs so far have been positive” of people complying.

He said: “Ultimately it’s personal responsibility. We’re looking for all rail users to have that personal ownership and make sure they’re following the clear rules that have been set out.

“Face coverings are mandatory now in Scotland and we need to make sure that is understood.”

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He added: “What we’re hoping for is that the clear message we have in stations and on trains and on social media will ensure that the volume of people travelling has high hit rates of face coverings. But, of course, if there needs to be intervention, we’ve got staff on the ground, we’ve got free face coverings at 18 of our busiest stations and if need be, there’ll be further help and support for our customers who require it.

“We increased the timetable last Monday and that took our seat capacity up to 70 per cent. It’s working very well, there’s high levels of punctuality, but the key message remains the same since the start of the pandemic – travel should only be taken for essential journeys.”