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Car-sharing is now allowed in lockdown Britain

People from different households will be able to car share as long as they keep the windows open to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

Guidance from the Department for Transport suggests car sharing commutes will be permitted to limit the number of passengers piling on to public transport.

But car windows should be kept open to ensure proper ventilation and passengers should try and face away from each other to ‘reduce the risk of transmission’, the document says.

Meanwhile hugging new friends will not be possible until a vaccine or treatment for coronavirus has been found, Matt Hancock said yesterday. 

People from different households will be able to car share as long as they keep the windows open to prevent the spread of coronavirus (Stock image) 

The advice was issued amid fears public transport networks could be rapidly overwhelmed as Britain returns to work today.

Millions of commuters are expected to swamp public transport today, but rail and bus operators are not increasing services until next Monday – prompting fears of chaos.

The DfT has admitted ‘there will be times and some settings on public transport where social distancing is not possible’, but insisted car sharing should only take place if absolutely necessary.

Commuters are being told to avoid public transport if they can by driving, walking or cycling instead.

To reduce the risk of infection on busy services, commuters are being told to walk the first or last mile of their journey to limit contact with other passengers and to face away from each other if social distancing cannot be maintained.

Ideally, they should walk for part of their journey – by alighting early to walk the last mile, for example – and choose the quietest, yet most direct, route to work with as few changes as possible.

All commuters are also being urged to wear masks or face covering and to avoid consuming food and drink while travelling.

Rail and bus operators are having to drastically reduce capacity to enable social distancing, although industry insiders fear it will be impossible to maintain a two metre gap between all passengers and union leaders have warned that workers may strike if conditions are unsafe.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps yesterday urged London Mayor Sadiq Khan to boost the number of Tube trains ‘as quickly as they can’.

In London, ministers are concerned the reduced Tube service will be rapidly overwhelmed as figures showed the network will only be able to take 15 per cent of usual commuter levels if full social distancing is to be maintained – even if 100 per cent of services are running.

Passengers wear face masks and stand apart on a platform at Canning Town underground station in London. The advice from the Department for Transport was issued amid fears public transport networks could be rapidly overwhelmed as Britain returns to work today

Passengers wear face masks and stand apart on a platform at Canning Town underground station in London. The advice from the Department for Transport was issued amid fears public transport networks could be rapidly overwhelmed as Britain returns to work today

Nationally, this figure falls to just 10 per cent of normal passenger levels with full social distancing in play.

Passenger numbers in the capital were already up eight per cent on Monday and are likely to rise significantly over the coming days as Britain slowly emerges out of the lockdown.

However, bosses at Transport for London, which has lost £4billion during the pandemic, have warned that increases in services will only be gradual, with 70 per cent of services eventually restored – but not until May 18.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Shapps said: ‘I have spoken to, communicated with the mayor and his deputy mayor over the weekend. I am encouraging them and working very closely with TfL to boost those services just as quickly as they can and there’s more to go there.

‘It is worth reiterating, even if those services ran at 100 per cent of pre-Covid levels, we would still only be able to take perhaps on the TfL 15 per cent of existing, usual commuter levels – so it is important that everybody looks for alternative means of transport.’

It marks the latest row between the Government and Mr Khan, who has been accused of a series of failings throughout the crisis – from scenes of packed Tube trains early on in the lockdown to a row over a lack of personal protective equipment for bus drivers. Some 42 TfL workers have died of coronavirus, though not all necessarily because of the jobs.

Yesterday Mr Shapps also confirmed he is working with tech firms to integrate ‘crush data’ into transport apps so travellers can avoid using the busiest services in the coming months.

For now, transport operators are being urged to rearrange, remove or limit seating to reduce capacity, with passengers encouraged to drive, walk or cycle to work instead.

A packed London Underground carriage pictured at Canary Wharf station on Monday, May 11

A packed London Underground carriage pictured at Canary Wharf station on Monday, May 11 

Station managers have been told to close ticket halls and concourses if they become too crowded, with announcements about station closures made on social media.

The advice to passengers states: ‘Taking a less busy route and reducing the number of changes (for example between bus and train) will help you keep your distance from others.

‘Public Health England recommends keeping a two metre distance from other people, where possible. Where this is not possible you should keep the time you spend nears others as short as possible and avoid physical contact.

‘Try to start or end your journey using a station or mode of transport you know to be quieter or more direct. For instance, walk the first or last mile of your journey, or alight at an earlier station, where this is possible.’

The guidance also suggests single users of black cabs and minicabs should sit in the back left-hand seat of cars in order to keep a distance from the driver.

The Government’s approach has been criticised by the militant Rail, Maritime and Transport union.

General Secretary Mick Cash said: ‘Maintaining social distancing on trains and tube is a massive logistical exercise that requires planning, resources and the protection of staff managing the flows of passengers. To rush that exercise is a disgrace.

The Government last week announced plans to spend £2billion promoting a ‘golden age for cycling,’ with the money spent on wider pavements and ‘pop-up bike lanes’ to try and tempt commuters off public transport.

Meanwhile hugging new friends will not be possible until a vaccine or treatment for coronavirus has been found, Matt Hancock said yesterday.

The Health Secretary was challenged over the official advice as the Government was accused of poorly communicating its new lockdown rules.

He said allowing childminders and cleaners to work inside homes but not members of extended family was ‘common sense’ although he acknowledged it was ‘frustrating’.

The ‘bubble’ idea for two households to join together will help with the pain of not seeing loved ones, he said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock was challenged over the official advice as the Government was accused of poorly communicating its new lockdown rules

Health Secretary Matt Hancock was challenged over the official advice as the Government was accused of poorly communicating its new lockdown rules

‘I think it will help with this anguish of a lot of people wanting to see family members in another household, whether that’s a grandparent – although there are the risks for older grandparents – or for people who are in a relationship but are in different households, and I understand that yearning as well,’ Mr Hancock told ITV’s This Morning.

However, scientific advisors have not said whether and when this might be possible.

Asked for an estimate of when people would be able to hug someone they have just met, he said: ‘Well, I wouldn’t recommend it.’

Pressed for a timetable, Mr Hancock added: ‘Well really, to get to the point where this is totally sorted, it’s when we have a treatment or a vaccine.

‘Those developing a vaccine think that they should have it on stream for this autumn.’

Speaking on BBC Breakfast earlier, Mr Hancock said there was a ‘common sense’ principle as to why children can be looked after by childminders, but not other family members from outside their household.

He said: ‘For some people’s livelihoods they need a childminder in order to earn an income and so that is important we allow that to happen.

‘But at the same time we don’t want to encourage the large scale, we don’t want to encourage people – especially when grandparents are older and we know this virus kills more older people than younger people – we don’t want to encourage kids to stay with their grandparents, but we do want to allow people, where possible, to get back to work.’

He also confirmed that when people decided to meet one other person at a distance and outdoors, they should meet in parks and open spaces, not in their gardens.

He said one of the reasons was that gardens can sometimes only be accessed through a house.

On the spread of Covid-19 in care homes, Mr Hancock was asked whether hospitals had sent patients with coronavirus back to care homes in England.

He admitted patients had been discharged from hospitals to care homes with Covid-19 but said it was before there was ‘widespread transmission’ of the virus.

This is despite the fact that the government only told hospitals they must test patients for coronavirus before discharging them to care homes on April 16.

Mr Hancock said: ‘At the start of this crisis, before there was widespread coronavirus in the community, then at that point we did take a lot of people who were in hospital but could clinically be in a care home, and put them in care homes.

‘But that was before there was widespread coronavirus in the community.

‘We then introduced the testing on leaving hospital to make sure people leaving hospital were tested whether they were displaying symptoms or not.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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