Commuters across the north-east were getting to grips with travelling in the new normal with the introduction of mandatory face coverings on public transport.
Rail and bus operators in the city spoke of how the first day of the use of compulsory coverings had been a success.
An announcement by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Thursday set out the rules for the use of face coverings, making them mandatory for everyone in public areas in stations and on trains, excluding children under five and people with specific medical reasons.
This covers buses, trains, aircraft, enclosed areas onboard ferries, taxis and private hire cabs.
Andrew Jarvis, managing director for First Aberdeen, said the compliance rate was around three quarters during yesterday afternoon.
He said: “We understand it will take time for everyone to adapt to the Scottish Government’s new rules on face coverings and are asking all customers to assist our drivers by co-operating to make journeys safe for everyone.
“We have conducted a poll across key routes from the first day of this being in place and found a compliance level of around 75% on city services throughout the afternoon. We will of course continue to monitor this as the week goes on as it is still early days.
“We are following the Scottish Government guidance to engage, explain and encourage customers to wear face coverings. If someone isn’t wearing a face covering, the driver will remind them of the new rules.
“To help protect others, we are confident our customers will continue to do the right thing and bring a face covering to wear on our buses.
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“Our drivers’ main focus will remain on getting passengers to their destinations safely. Some people travelling will be exempt from wearing a face covering, including our drivers in their cabs or someone with a respiratory or other medical condition. We would urge passengers who are exempt to download our Extra Help to Travel card from the First Aberdeen website, which they can show to the driver to help ease this process.
“We are already communicating the need to wear face coverings at this time, which aligns with guidance from the Scottish Government in conjunction with an industry approach for operators to engage, explain and encourage adoption. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic our drivers have responded superbly to the challenges in helping to ensure people can make essential journeys and this will continue.
“We like to thank all customers for their ongoing co-operation at this challenging time. We all have a role to play in following the Scottish Government’s latest advice and regulations, to help get Aberdeen moving again safely.”
To support customers, free face masks have been made available at 18 of the busiest rail stations across Scotland, including Aberdeen, for a limited period.
Stagecoach and ScotRail said the first day of the new rules saw the “vast majority” adhering to them.
David Simpson, ScotRail operations director, said: “The position on face coverings is now absolutely clear and we are urging customers to take collective responsibility and follow the Scottish Government rules on their mandatory use.
“We are doing everything we can to help customers get used to the changes in rail travel and that’s why, for a limited time, we will be providing face masks at our busiest stations. But Scotland’s Railway can’t guarantee physical distancing at all stages of a customer’s journey.
“The message remains the same as it has been since the start of the pandemic: only travel if your journey is essential and follow our five rules for safer travel. It will help to keep you, your fellow customers, and our staff safe.
“We have been asking customers to cover their face when using our services for a number of weeks, and it was positive to see the vast majority of people doing that today.”
A Stagecoach spokeswoman added: “We are following Government guidance, encouraging passengers to wear a face covering when using our services.
“For day one, we have been pleased to see an overwhelming majority compliant with this guidance in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.”
With that said, members of the public spotted breaching the rules will now be fined “as a very last resort”.
Officers from British Transport Police will be speaking to rail staff and passengers to ensure people are following the new regulations.
Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan said: “I reiterate that everyone should still be avoiding public transport if at all possible.
“We are however confident that those who need to use the railway will act responsibly and will want to play their part in helping to protect each other and comply with the requirement to wear face coverings.
“We understand that initially not everyone may be aware that it is now mandatory to wear face coverings – therefore our approach will be to engage with the public, explain the new government policy and encourage them to follow the new regulations for travelling on the railway.
“Only as an absolute last resort will we carry out enforcement in the form of fines.
“We are sure that the public will want to be responsible and do their part to protect others by wearing face coverings.”