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‘COVID party bus’: Commuters revolt

Commuters across the world have failed to heed Australia’s warning after photos of packed trains in Adelaide sparked fears of a second wave of the coronavirus.In the United Kingdom overnight, similar photos of crammed carriages emerged on the first day of its new rules after the government loosened its lockdown measures, forcing the Transport Secretary…

Commuters across the world have failed to heed Australia’s warning after photos of packed trains in Adelaide sparked fears of a second wave of the coronavirus.

In the United Kingdom overnight, similar photos of crammed carriages emerged on the first day of its new rules after the government loosened its lockdown measures, forcing the Transport Secretary to threaten to shut public transport down.

One healthcare worker described her morning commute as “like a COVID party bus”.

There were also reports of crowded trains and buses in France this week, as primary schools and day care centres reopened.

Public transport has emerged as a concern for health officials as governments lift restrictions and encourage people to return to work.

In Australia, health authorities met in Adelaide on Wednesday afternoon after photos emerged of commuters standing shoulder-to-shoulder during busy services on Monday.

Travellers feared the crowded conditions could unleash a second wave of the virus, with some calling the images “incredibly unsafe”.

“I believe Adelaide Metro will single-handedly be responsible for the second wave of COVID-19 by its poor form of lessening services and carriage numbers,” one commuter, Dan Foster, wrote on Twitter.

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The South Australian government has insisted the situation is under control, with Premier Steven Marshall saying a maintenance issue with some trains had disrupted services.

Transport Minister Stephan Knoll told parliament that no major changes were necessary.

“The public health advice has not been for the Transport Department to do anything different from what it is doing.”

‘LIKE A COVID PARTY BUS’

In England on Wednesday, commuters said it was impossible to maintain social distancing on the tube and most people were not wearing face coverings.

Britons are now being encouraged to return to work if they cannot work from home, but they’ve been advised to wear face masks on public transport and to continue social distancing.

One healthcare worker described her morning commute as “like a COVID party bus”.

“Think you need to step up and either limit passengers or put more frequent buses on! My 7am bus this morning is like a COVID party bus, downstairs is packed, no distancing being put in place. I work at the hospital and the past two days I’ve never felt so unsafe,” she said.

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Transport for London said that in the morning hours up to 10:00am, the number of passengers on the tube system was around 7.3 per cent higher than on the same day last week.

Carl Moss, 39, who was travelling to his job as a gardener at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London, said it had felt “busier” and he’d seen “more office, finance-type people” as well as manual workers.

Meanwhile, at London’s Victoria train and subway station, worker Linda Freitas said she felt “anxious and a bit scared” about the prospect of more commuters.

A ticket office worker at the station died with COVID-19 last month after being spat at by a man claiming to have the coronavirus.

“If it’s done gradually let’s see, but if it’s too many people then it will be a bit of a problem,” she said.

After just a few hours, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps issued a stern warning urging people not to “flood” the public transport system or it could be shut it down.

“We are asking people to be very sensible and not flood back to public transport,” he told Sky News.

“Even with all the trains and buses back to running when they are, there will not be enough space. One in 10 people will be able to travel without overcrowding.”

He also told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “If we see the R (virus reproduction) number go up again – particularly above one – we will have to take steps.

“We all know what that means – it means going back to staying at home.”

– With wires

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