Skip to main content

Get your facemasks ready for Monday

12 June 2020

By Tim Le Couilliard, Newgate Public Affairs

Ahead of shops opening on Monday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps delivered today’s daily Downing Street briefing. He was keen to reiterate that, from Monday, it becomes mandatory in England for travellers on public transport to wear a face covering, including on planes, trains, ferries, trams and busses. Noting how transport is “instrumental to our recovery”, Shapps stated that as people begin to travel again, it will also become one of the recovery’s biggest challenges. 

Shapps cited evidence that there is “huge public support for face coverings”, and that they show “respect for fellow travellers”. On their enforcement, Shapps stated that operators will have the power to refuse to carry people if they do not wear face coverings, and enforcement will be supported by additional powers from the Public Health Act, and operational support from the BTP and “journeymakers”. 

Shapps went on to outline the progress being made by his Department in making transport greener, citing the already announced £2bn cycling and walking programme. Noting that transport is currently one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gasses, Shapps intends instead for the sector to “become part of the solution, not the problem.” Noting airline travel in particular, Shapps announced that the government is bringing together leaders in aviation, environmental groups and officials to form the “Jet Zero Council.” In a generation, the goal of this newly formed Council is to “fly across the Atlantic without harming the environment”, with research being supported into biofuels and zero-carbon flights. 

Touching on the protests expected this weekend, Shapps stated his understanding of the reasons and passions behind the protests, but called on people not to attend mass gatherings, “for the sake of your health and for the sake of your friends and families’”. 

This morning the ONS published the new “unprecedented” GDP numbers, showing that the British economy shrunk 20.4% in April, the greatest drop since records began in 1997. With record falls in services, production and construction output, April was particularly heavily hit due to the introduction of the lockdown. The other important number today is the R number which reports have suggested may be above 1 in some parts of England, with concerns in the southwest in particular. Officially the UK wide R number remains at between 0.7-0.9 and Shapps was keen to stress this afternoon that the ‘R’ number remains stable.