By Chrispine Onyango
In March this year, the government through the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, issued directives aimed at reducing the spread of coronavirus through public transport. The measures included commuters refraining from unnecessary trips and where possible, limiting travel on foot or bicycle to a radius of between 0 and 5 kilometres radius. In the directives, commuters were asked to maintain strict handwashing while maintaining personal hygiene. Similarly, public transport operators were directed to frequently clean and disinfect their vehicles and to provide commuters with hand sanitisers before boarding. The directives were adhered to, even if not strictly.
Fast forward to September 2020, public transport operators have forgotten about the directives or just ignored them. The coronavirus pandemic has changed everyday life, from shopping, working, social life, to use of mass transit. While some public transport vehicles are still adhering to the directives, others have gone back to the pre-virus routine. Below are some tips that will keep you safe as you use public transport.
1. Practice hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
Before you leave, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Alternatively, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Once you reach your destination, wash your hands again with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol as soon as possible upon arrival. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash and wash your hands immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol.
2. Wear a mask
Wear a mask in public settings. Masks offer protection to both yourself and those around you. When you are waiting at a bus station or selecting seats on a train, ensure to have your mask on. It is, however, essential to note that masks should not be placed on babies and children younger than two years old, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, and anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
3. Practice social distancing
When possible, consider travelling during non-peak hours when there are likely to be fewer people. During travel, follow social distancing guidelines by staying at least 6 feet (2 meters) from people around you. For example, avoid gathering in groups, and stay out of crowded spaces when possible, especially at transit stations and stops. Also, consider skipping a row of seats between yourself and other passengers if possible.
4. Stay up-to-date
Check with local transit authorities for the latest information on changes to services and procedures, especially if you might need additional assistance.
5. Avoid touching surfaces
Limit touching frequently touched surfaces such as vehicle doors, benches, etc as much as possible. If you must touch these surfaces, as soon as you can, wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or rub your hands with sanitizer containing 60% alcohol. If possible, use touchless payment and no-touch trash cans and doors when available. If possible, exchange cash or credit cards by placing them in a receipt tray or on the counter rather than by hand.