Thousands of long-distance travelers are expected to make use of public transport in December as they make their way home from the big cities and metros to spend the Festive Season holiday with family and friends.
“As we have seen this year, the movement of people is one of the easiest and quickest ways in which a virus is spread due to the close contact of commuters for prolonged periods. South Africa’s lockdown level 1 travel restrictions allows for the opening of our surrounding borders, and those ‘going home’ need to be more vigilant than before,” says Emma Corder, Managing Director of industrial cleaning products manufacturer Industroclean.
In his most recent address to the nation on progress in the national effort to contain the pandemic, President Ramaphosa highlighted concern over the number of new cases in the Eastern Cape which is showing signs of a resurgence.
If not undertaken responsibly, South Africans travelling to other parts of the country and the expected increase in social gatherings, pose the greatest threat to the management of the pandemic.
The onus will be on commuters and operators to ensure regulations pertaining to COVID-19 are followed. The actual commute is not the only risk of infection travelers will face. Public transport hubs and pick up points see hundreds of commuters congregating at a central point sometimes queuing for hours.
Passengers should practice the following;
- Practice social distancing at busy transport hubs and PTI’s. Keep a recommended distance of 1.5 to 2m from other commuters.
- Follow any new regulations that may have been introduced such as infrastructural changes that assist with access control and screening of commuters.
- Do not board an overloaded vehicle. Social distancing and avoiding body contact with other commuters becomes even more challenging on an overloaded vehicle.
- Ensure that you sanitise your hands before boarding, regularly during the trip and when disembarking.
- Avoid touching handrails and vehicle doors.
- Wear a mask at all times. If a passenger next to you refuses to wear a mask, alert the driver.
- Make sure you have the exact fares to limit contact with conductors and money. While it is not proven that one can contract COVID from handling coins and notes, it is good hygiene practice to wash your hands after touching money.
- Keep the vehicle windows open to ensure good ventilation and respiratory hygiene.
Vehicle operators and drivers also have a responsibility toward passengers;
- Before and after each trip vehicles should be sanitised.
- The inside of vehicles with a focus on rails, windowpanes and door handles should be washed down with soap and water and then disinfected at least once per day.
- Refuse to board anyone not wearing a mask.
- Marshalls and, or drivers must ensure that all commuters’ hands are sanitised, that they are screened and personal details recorded when boarding.
- Do not overload vehicles, commuters need to avoid body contact.
- Eating on board should not be allowed so make regular stops which will allow commuters to practice social distancing when eating or drinking.
- Make sure sufficient, quality cleaning equipment and supplies are available and that these are re-stocked regularly.
It has been a challenging year and the festive break is something we all look forward to, especially spending time with family and friends.
The focus during this time of the year is usually on limiting the number of accidents and fatalities on our roads with traffic authorities ensuring regulations are adhered to.
This year we have the added personal responsibility of keeping ourselves and our families safe from infection by keeping hygiene top of mind.